Winter home vacation checklist: What to do before you go
Winter vacations can be a great way to break up the gray monotony of winter. Before leaving your home for a week or longer, you’ll want to take these steps to make sure your home is still in one piece when you get back.
1. Unplug non-essential devices
Unplug all non-critical electrical devices, such as televisions, computers, video game consoles, kitchen appliances, and clocks. These devices and appliances all draw power passively, even when they’re not being used, which can add significantly to your electrical bill and heighten the potential of a fire when left unchecked.
Keep things like your refrigerator plugged in. For security, it’s worth investing in small, cost-effective timers to turn the lights off and on randomly. Everything else should be unplugged and turned off.
2. Clean before you leave
Take out the garbage. Clean out your refrigerator, freezer, and garbage disposal to minimize the risk of leftover food rotting and festering. Cleaning the kitchen and washing any used dishware will also help keep any odors and fruit flies away while you’re traveling.
3. Turn down the heat
When there’s no one in your home, a setting of around 55°F should keep the heating bill low while keeping the house warm enough to ensure the pipes don’t burst.
An additional option is to turn down the temperature on your water heater to increase your energy savings. Simply turn the dial on your heater to low or vacation mode, which will keep the pipes warm.
4. Turn off the water supply
Turn off the water supply to your house and open all of the faucets to completely drain them of water. Flush your toilet to clear all the water from the tank and bowl.
You’ll want to leave a single faucet open on the lowest floor of your house to allow air and any leftover water to drain.
When possible, shut off the water to washing machines and the dishwasher to avoid any potential leaks.
If you really want to get ambitious, you can install a water flow sensor and temperature sensor on your main water supply pipe.
5. Let your neighbors know
Ask a friend or neighbor to look in on your home while you’re away. Depending on where you live, your personal needs, and the size of your home, this can either be a very small job, like looking to ensure everything is intact, or it may be more complex.
If your home is significantly large, it may be worth engaging a paid service to shovel the driveway, pick up mail and newspapers, feed pets, or water plants. Whether it’s a friend or a service, make sure that whoever is looking after your home should have your basic contact information and a rudimentary knowledge of the home’s layout and systems.
6. Contact your bank and credit card company
Inform your bank, credit card company, and security provider that you’ll be away from your home for an extended period of time. Instructions on how to handle any incursions or false alarms in your absence should be specific.
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