The holidays are a beautiful time to connect with friends and family, and often that means leaving home. If you are only leaving for a day or two, it may be okay to leave everything as is. Following a simple checklist for extended stays can save you money and lessen the risk of disaster striking before you get home.
You may not know it, but your home is a ticking time bomb waiting for the right moment to fall apart, and that moment will almost always occur when you are gone. There is nothing worse than coming home to a flooded basement or a broken refrigerator with spoiled food. Moreover, a few simple steps can save you money in energy conservation.
It may be a bit superstitious to say that your house will fall apart while you’re gone, but better safe than sorry with these simple tips.
Holiday Leaving Home Checklist
Make All Windows/Doors shut and locked:
This seems like a very basic item to include on a checklist, but it needs to be here. There are windows that you may not think about that get opened often such as a bathroom or kitchen windows. If you live in a cool climate, they are probably shut. Locking them ensures that your home is not an easy target for burglars looking for vacant homes during the holiday season.
Turn off the lights strategically:
Hopefully, you’ve already switched to LED lights, so your light bill will not vary much by turning them off. If you haven’t, then you will realize a monetary benefit from turning off the lights before you leave. Don’t turn off every light. Leave a few lights on strategically to make it appear that someone might be home. Again, burglars are looking for vacant homes this time of year. If you have your lights on timers, it will be even more believable that people are home.
Turn off your water:
If nobody is going to need it, turn off the water at the shut off valve. This will prevent any water damage during your travels. If you must leave it on, consider installing shut-off valves for your washer and water heater, the most common sources of water damage. Otherwise, make sure all faucets are completely shut off to conserve.
Turn down your heat:
IF nobody is home, it does not have to be a balmy 72 degrees Fahrenheit in your home. Turn down your thermostat, and you’ll definitely conserve gas or electricity.
Feed pets/water plants:
Your warm-blooded pets likely need a sitter, but if you have fish or other small, caged pets, they may be okay with a little extra food. Also, don’t forget to water your plants. It’s so sad to return from vacation to wilted plants.
Take care of your live Christmas tree:
If this means putting it outside, that’s fine. Christmas trees are a huge fire hazard. If you are planning on coming home to a healthy evergreen, make sure it is watered and unplugged. Christmas trees are one of those things that need human attention in order to be safe.
Unplug everything (within reason):
Obviously, you cannot turn off your refrigerator before you leave, but you should unplug all small appliances and electronics. Not only does this conserve energy, but it protects electronics from surges and spikes that can occur. If this does not sound convenient, at least make sure they are plugged in to surge protectors.
There are many ways to secure your home, but three primary ways are lighting, alarms, and cameras. Motion-activated security lighting can be a huge deterrent to burglars. They should be installed at all entrances to a home but can be an additional help along perimeters and up against the exterior walls of the home.
Alarm systems vary, but many are priced very reasonably now due to smart home features becoming so popular. Alarms may be set up to alert authorities, but they may also alert your phone.
With that said, many cameras are set up to alert your phone if anyone is there, and sometimes you can even communicate with those people remotely.
Hold your mail:
A full mailbox is a telltale sign that nobody is home, and not only does it alert would-be burglars, but it also leaves your mail exposed to the elements. It is inconvenient to have to go to the post office, but it is well worth the time and effort.
Make your own checklist:
The items on this list are very basic, and each home has different things that must be attended to prior to leaving for any length of time. Maybe you need to get a house sitter or cancel cleaning services. Making your own list or building off of this list is an excellent way to ensure that your home stays protected, and everything is put together when you get home.