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The Goal

To make your home look like someone is at home after dark.

What To Do

Have lights go on and go off throughout the house to look like someone is at home and moving around.


Use electric or electronic timers to switch lights on and off.

A dark house says, "no one is at home."

About Timers

Timers simply plug into your outlets, and you plug your lamps into them. You can set the times for lights to turn on and turn off.

Simple timers are inexpensive ($5-$15). There are two kinds of timers.

  1. The cheaper timers are mechanical and have clock motors.
  2. Digital timers are more expensive, but more accurate. 

You can buy timers at lots of stores. 

    • Neighborhood drug stores
    • Local hardware stores
    • Home Depot or Lowe's

There are more complicated timers that control overhead lights or that connect to the power box in a home to control lights throughout the house. Some of these kinds of timers might be useful for controlling exterior lights.

Use CFL or LED bulbs:
Same light, less electricity. 
Same money, more light.
These bulbs cost more to buy, but the electricity savings repay the extra cost many times over.


Whatever interior lights are turned on for security purposes, they must be visible from outside in order to be effective. Bad guys have to see the lights.

  • Lights must be bright, not just a small night light.
  • Heavy curtains, blinds, or shutters block light.
  • Leave lights on in rooms where they show from outside.

We're Home!

The trick is to set timers to make it look like someone is at home and moving around.

  • Set a light to turn on just before dusk. 
    • Probably downstairs where the family gathers. 
    • Maybe two lights.
    • Perhaps in the basement, since many people have basement family rooms.
  • Set a light to turn on upstairs later in the evening, like someone is going to bed.
  • Set downstairs lights to turn off late in the evening.
    • Perhaps even after midnight.
    • Maybe leave one on until early in the morning (5 a.m.), like a night light.
  • Set an upstairs light to turn off late at night (2 a.m.), like someone is up late.
  • Set a downstairs light to turn on early in the morning (5 a.m.), like someone is up early.

Different families have different patterns, naturally, so each family can set its own pattern of lights according to its activities.

All Night?

Many people leave a light on all night in a conspicuous place, such as a bathroom or hallway. Some leave them on 24/7. Inside and outside.

Radios or TV

  • Leaving a radio or a TV on when you leave the house also is a deterrent. It implies that someone is at home.
  • Sound works in the daytime, when having lights are not so effective.
  • They can be put on timers also, to come on along with lights.

Some Problems to Avoid

No one should be able to see into your house. If they can, interior lights make it better for them!!

  • Cover windows and doors so no one can see inside. 
    • Even light weight curtains are enough, and they let light out.
    • Blinds and shutters work, although they can keep light in.
    • Don't show off what you've got to anyone who wants to look.
  • Do not leave a light on in a living room window with the curtains open and no other lights on. 
    • This is too obvious. It is a clear sign that no one is there.
    • With curtains open, anyone can look inside and see no one is there.
    • This is an old fashioned practice, and it is not a good idea nowadays.
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