Should I Leave My Porch Lights on at Night?

Increase Security

House at dusk.
credit: karamysh/iStock/Getty Images
Porch lights illuminating the exterior of a home in the evening.

The same porch light that welcomes you home at the day's end also serves some very practical purposes. The porch light can help you to avoid falls and also prevent that awkward fumbling with your keys in the dark. Once you're inside, a well-lit entryway allows you to see who might be knocking at your door. Police officers and security companies agree that a porch light may discourage criminals from breaking into a house at night.

Motion Sensor Lights Provide More Security

Security experts agree that always leaving the porch light on at night, or just leaving it on when you leave, will alert criminals that you are gone. Leaving a light burning all night long wastes energy. Another concern is that some people find it difficult to sleep if there is a light coming through the window at night.

Bottom Line

If you want your porch light to deter criminal activity, use lights with a motion sensor. This solution wastes less energy because the light is only on when it senses nearby movement. Indoor houselights, even when attached to a timer, suggest someone may be at home. Criminals are more likely to bypass the house with motion sensor lights than a house where the lights are on only when you are gone, or a house where the porch light is always on.