Whether you’re traveling to a warmer climate for the long winter, or plan to take an extended summer vacation, it helps to take some simple precautions to prep your house in advance. Doing so can help save you money and ensure your home remains safe and secure in your absence. Here are six simple steps that you can take to prepare your home for a long vacation.
There’s no need to heat – or cool – an empty house. It’s a waste of energy and money. There are exceptions, of course. For example, if you live in a cold climate and intend to travel in winter, it makes sense to heat the home to prevent the pipes from freezing. But maintaining a perfect 72 degrees Fahrenheit for weeks or months at a time simply isn’t practical. Before you set off on your trip, program an “away” setting on your thermostat, so that you don’t spend money making the house comfortable for people who aren’t there.
The last thing that you want is for a water pipe to break while you’re out of the house. It can easily result in thousands of dollars’ worth of damage. Though all of the faucets may be turned off, there is still water going through the pipes. After all, the pipes must maintain pressure at all times so that you can have water on demand, at the turn of a spigot. Even if the risk of a burst water pipe is low (though it’s a genuine risk in colder climates), you can eliminate the risk altogether if you shut off the water at the source. Shut off the primary valve (likely located in a basement or on the side of the house) to stop the flow of water altogether. You can then turn it back on when you get back.
For added security while you’re away, put the house lights on a timer (or alternatively, monitor and control your lights remotely, using home automation systems). Vacant houses are targets for thieves, occupied houses aren’t. With the lights on, you give off an impression of being home even when you’re away. Best of all, lightbulb timers are incredibly affordable. Though installation costs will vary, depending on the complexity of the system you elect to buy, the timers themselves cost very little. If you simply want a mechanical timer for a floor lamp or two, you can set them up quickly and cheaply.
One of the best things that you can do while away is enlist the help of neighbors or friends to watch over your house. A second set of eyes can help you feel comfortable on your vacation, knowing that someone is keeping an eye out for your home. And if you’re planning on being gone for several weeks or months, a willing neighbor or friend may even help maintain the property, such as mowing the lawn or watering the garden. If so, don’t hesitate to offer some form of incentive. Friends may not expect or even want to be paid for helping out, but certainly a “thank you” gift never hurts.
Before you head out on your vacation, be sure to place a mail hold with the Post Office. It takes little time, and you can even choose between picking up the mail yourself at your nearest Post Office location, or having your mail delivered after your return date. Piled up mail is a clear sign that nobody is home, so be sure to avoid it at all costs – especially when it’s so easy to do so.
The same home automation systems that make it possible to control your lights or thermostat from your phone also make it possible to monitor your home. Of course, these systems don’t have to be synced if you’d prefer a simpler setup – you can also choose to set up a security camera system independently. Thankfully, there are a wide range of wireless security camera systems to choose from, most of which are easy to set up and use. Simply sync these security devices with your in-home Wi-Fi network, and you can monitor your house from a smartphone, tablet, or laptop. Even while you’re out of the house, you can see what’s going on inside.
CEO and Founder at Mighty Shouts.
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