Planning a vacation this year? Be sure to read these tips for preparing your home for vacation before you take off!
Tip #1 – Set Up Vacation Holds for Mail and Newspaper
Nothing says “nobody’s home” like an overflowing mailbox and piled up newspapers in the driveway. Before you go on your trip be sure to set up a mail hold at your local post office (you can even do it online), and contact your newspaper delivery person to ask them to hold your papers until you are back. It’s also good practice to have a friend or neighbor check in just to make sure those deliveries have actually stopped and pull any delivered papers or mail into the home for your return.
Tip #2 – Park Your Car in the Garage
If at all possible, park your car in the garage. This helps protect your car from vandalism and theft- plus, a car sitting in the driveway for days or weeks can be an indicator that you’re out of town. If you don’t have a garage or parking in the garage is not possible, consider leaving your car with a trusted friend or relative and possibly asking a neighbor to park in your driveway so anyone watching the house sees cars come and go.
Tip #3 – Put a Light on a Timer
If a burglar is scouting for a home to rob, a continually dark house is a dead giveaway that nobody is home. Consider purchasing a simple light timer for one or more of your lamps in a room that is visible from the street. If you don’t have time to pick one up, if you have someone looking in on your home ask them to turn on 1-2 lights and change which lights are on each time they visit.
Tip #4 – Unplug Small Appliances and Electronics
Not only will unplugging these smaller items save you a little on your bill while you’re gone, but it can also protect your home from electrical fires should something short out. Be sure to unplug items like toasters, coffee makers, etc. This is also an excellent time to check the batteries in your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors and make sure they are functional.
Tip #5 – Change Your Thermostat Settings
Of course you need to account for plants, pets, or any other temperature sensitive items in your home, but if you’re going to be out of town you can change your thermostat to a more middle-ground temperature when you’re out of town since you’re not adjusting the home for your own comfort. Whether that’s not using so much air conditioning in the summer, or lowering the heat a bit in the winter, there are savings to be had when you adjust that temperature for your out-of-town adventures.
Tip #6 – Put your Water Heater on Vacation Mode
Most water heaters have a vacation mode, usually labeled VAC. This will keep your water heater from heating water all day long as they normally do, which is a waste of energy when you’re not there to use it! If your water heater does not have a vacation mode, you can turn the temperature all the way down to save a little energy. You can also turn off water valves for things like dishwashers, washing machines, and sinks if you are going to be gone for a while and will not have pets in the home that a pet sitter is looking in on. This will help prevent damage in the event of burst or leaky pipes.
Tip #7 – Clean Up – Especially the Kitchen
Chances are when you return from your trip you’re going to be tired from traveling and thrown right back into daily life without much time to catch up. The last thing you’ll want to face when coming home from a vacation is a dirty home! Be sure to tidy your home before you leave, especially the kitchen. Handle any food that will spoil over the course of your trip, do the dishes, and empty all trash cans. Another smart step if you are going to be gone for more than a few days is to clean toilets before you leave.
Tip #8 – Leave Contact Info with Your Neighbors
Even if you have a friend or family member looking in on your home while you’re gone, it’s not a bad idea to leave your contact information with your neighbors. They are close by and able to keep an eye on your home in between visits from your house sitter, and may be the first to notice if something is not right. Be sure to let you neighbor know where you are going, how long you will be gone, and how they can reach you. Also let them know who will be looking in on the home and their contact information as well.
Taking these simple steps before your trip will help you relax knowing that your home is in good hands, and make the return to the real world all that much easier.