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It’s a question that has been debated for decades: should you leave the porch light on or off? Some people say that leaving it on will deter burglars, while others argue that it is an unnecessary expense.
This blog post discusses some of the theories about keeping your porch light on or off, including one from author David Hagerman.
Should You Leave A Porch Light On Or Off?
Leaving your porch light burning throughout the evening if you’re home or your inside lights are on is fine. A porch light can be a useful tool for people entering your home to see clearly and provide a sense of safety.
Do you consider your porch light to be a security feature or just another added expense? Deciding whether to leave the front porch light on at night has been a debate for centuries.
You could flip a coin, but let’s dig into some of the reasoning behind leaving it one way or the other.
The argument has been raging since the invention of electricity: keeping a porch light on or off during the night. It’s an argument that affects many, whether they know it or not. So what is the right answer?
The traditional use for porch lights was to aid travelers along dark paths and roads at night. They were also used to give the impression of warmth and security. Nowadays, however, many people view porch lights as an unneeded waste of energy during the night.
If you’re wondering what differentiates a porch light from any other type of house/room light, it’s that they are usually much brighter than other types of lamps used for indoor lighting.
It’s also a fact that most porch lights are continuously on, regardless of people being present. For this reason alone, many consider them to be an unnecessary waste of resources.
It is indeed true that turning off your porch light at night will save you money from the electricity bill. This is because they use more power than any other type of room light. It has been estimated that leaving a porch light on can cost as much as $1 or more per night.
Many people have also argued that it’s necessary to leave the porch light on because of safety reasons, especially if you’re not home during the day/night. Exterior lights provide security and discourage potential burglars from targeting your home.
However, many have called this assumption into question, arguing that porch lights are not bright enough to discourage criminals or alert people nearby of potential danger.
They argue that the benefit is negligible at best and does not outweigh the financial costs associated with leaving them on all night. Further arguments also claim that burglars are actually likely to use flashlights to enter a home, negating the need for a porch light altogether.
When To Turn On Your Porch Lights
When You Are Home At Night
It’s a good idea to leave the porch light on at this time. It alerts burglars to your presence, especially if the indoor lights are also turned on.
The porch light also serves as a light source for the front door. Through a window or peephole, you can easily see who is approaching.
Late Night Out
It’s a good idea to leave a light on for people who won’t get home until well after dark. Keeping the porch light on makes it easier for people to get to the door and unlock it safely.
When You Expecting Someone
If you are expecting someone, it is a good idea to turn on the porch light. The extra light makes it easier for the person to find your house.
Porch lights work best when they are coordinated with deck, garage, and indoor lighting. The combination gives the impression that people are at home and moving around.
When To Turn Off Your Porch Lights
When You Go On Vacation
If you are away from home for long periods of time or on vacation, you should turn off the porch light.
A constantly lit porch marks your house as a target. You should either have a neighbor turn on and off the light or invest in a light timer. The preprogrammed settings give the impression that you are at home.
When You Go To Bed
When it’s time to go to bed, your porch should be no exception. Turn off the porch light, just as you would in any other room of the house.
Turning off the light on a regular basis implies that the house is occupied. Furthermore, many porch lights on the market today use infrared sensors to turn on automatically when they detect motion.
Does Leaving A Porch Light On Deter Burglars?
Leaving a dark home lit up can deter criminals from targeting your property because no one wants to break into an occupied residence but this is not always the case.
If you’re leaving your house unattended during the night, then definitely keep your front door bright!
When your porch light is on throughout the night even when nobody is home, this can be a sign for burglars that no one is around and they may attempt to break into your property.
The same goes for leaving outside lights on all day or leaving them on at night with nobody in the house.
Should you leave your porch light on? This could signal an empty home which would make someone more likely to try their luck by breaking in during nighttime hours.
Leaving any kind of lights blazing while you are not there especially near windows where potential intruders will see gives them a reason to believe that there aren’t many people inside since most homes have multiple types of lighting fixtures either coming from indoors or outdoors.
A lot of people believe that leaving your porch light on is the only way to keep away criminals.
After all, it’s common knowledge that “no one can rob you if he can’t see you.” However, is this true?
Do criminals really avoid lit houses at night? And more importantly, does leaving your porch light on 100% of the time really increase your chances of becoming a victim?
We decided to find out.
First of all, we analyzed FBI reports from 1997 through 2013. During these years, over 3 million violent crimes occurred each year in the US.
The crime rate has gradually increased over time since they began keeping statistics in 1977, with the exception of 2009 and 2010 where it slightly decreased. Property crimes were also on the rise since 1997, with 2013 reporting more than 1.5 million cases.
The better question is therefore not how many crimes occurred based on whether or not someone left their porch lights on, but rather at what times of the day do certain crimes occur?
We recently released our study on home invasions which you can find here. We found that 57% of all robberies occur between 6 pm and midnight, while only 9% happen after midnight (between 12 am and 5 am).
Property crimes like burglary also peak during these nighttime hours as well (with 23% occurring between 8 pm and 11 pm).
Based on these findings, we decided to create the following infographic. It shows the chances of someone being robbed while staying in a lit house (left side) or an unlit house (right side).
We could not find any studies that analyzed how criminals act based on the light setting of the houses they are burglarizing. However, we can make some inferences based on their past behavior and patterns that have occurred in the past.
If your porch light is off at night, there’s no difference in the chance of being burglarized compared to having it turned on.
The implication is that burglars don’t really care if your house is visible or not when assessing whether or not it will be worth robbing. They mostly just want to see if there’s good stuff inside your house.
However, during the day, having a visible house can give robbers more of an opportunity to case it for an escape route or safe points to break in.
Should you leave your porch light on? It’s fine to leave your porch light on all evening if you’re home or if your inside lights are turned on.