A little more than 30 percent of Americans are expected to travel this holiday season. In fact, AAA estimates that 94.5 million Americans will travel at least 50 miles or more from their home in the short period of time between Thanksgiving and the end of the year. Millions of people traveling at the same time can be hectic, and if you are included in that bunch it is important that you are as prepared as possible.
Packing, getting your family ready, and making sure you have all the essential travel documents is one thing, but making sure your home is prepped for your winter vacation is just as important. And sure, it might sound funny, but there are certain things that must be done to your home to ensure it remains safe and efficient while you are away. If you don’t take the time to get your home in order, you could come home from your vacation to a disaster.
Plumbing Concerns during Winter
“Short-term trips, or any trip that is 3 days or under doesn’t really require much attention where plumbing is concerned, but usually around the holidays trips tend to last a week or longer, and it’s these long trips that need attention,” said John Moore Services Senior Operations Manager Joe Bany. “Before you leave for a longer trip I’d recommend taking a thorough look around your house to check and make sure there isn’t anything leaking, dripping, and that there are not any toilets that are running. By fixing these smaller problems before you leave you are ensuring that a small leak won’t become a large leak and ruin parts of your home while you are away.”
After checking your home for leaks and drips, there are two other important things that must be done:
- Turn your water heater to “vacation mode.” Your water heater uses up a lot of energy because it is constantly heating and reheating water, and while you are gone there is no need for this to happen. All gas water heaters have a vacation setting that keeps the pilot light lit but eliminates the constant heating of water. And doing this will save you money.
- Turn off your main water supply. In every home there is a main water supply shut-off. Turning your water off while you are away is a smart thing to do because if you do get an unexpected leak, or your toilet tank cracks, the amount of water that will burst out will be limited. Sure, there will still be water on the floor but it will only be a small amount.
Electrical Concerns during Winter
You don’t want to turn off your electricity because you are going to be away for a while, but you do want to protect items in your home from sudden power surges. An unexpected strike of lightning or a malfunctioning appliance can send surges of power through your electrical system and can ruin anything that is plugged into an outlet. By unplugging all unnecessary electrical items that draw power, you are lowering your electric bill, reducing your chances of a fire, and protecting these items from an unexpected power surge.
HVAC Concerns during Winter
Turn down your heat. When no one is inside your home keeping it warm and toasty isn’t necessary and will add to your monthly bill. If there are no pets inside your home, set your thermostat to around 50 degrees. Although it is cold, it isn’t cold enough you freeze your pipes. And if you have a programmable thermostat, you can adjust your temperature settings to return back to normal the day you come home from vacation, that way your house will be comfortable right when you walk through the door.
Home Security Concerns during Winter Vacations
Unfortunately, during the holiday season crime rates skyrocket all across the country. And if you are going to be gone for an extended period of time, it is important that you take the proper precautions to keep your home safe.
- Keep certain lights inside your home on. It is recommended to keep a sensor light on outside around the front door, and to keep a few key lights on inside. This will give the appearance that people are home.
- Keep a radio on, and talk radio is best. That way, if a burglar approaches your home he will hear voices and might think twice about going inside.
- Have a neighbor or friend collect your mail, trash cans, recycle bins, and newspapers. Any of these items left outside are a red flag to burglars that you are not home. Many times, burglars will watch a neighborhood for a few days before they make their move, and if they notice a stack of newspapers on your driveway your home will instantly become a target.
- Make sure you set your alarm system. That way if someone does get inside your home, the police will be notified right away.
- Never announce on social media that you will be out of town, and wait to post pictures from your vacation until you return. Not doing so will tell the world that your home will be empty for a specific amount of time, which is very dangerous.
The holiday season is a wonderful time of year, and is a great time to visit friends and relatives that you don’t usually get to see. And if you follow the advice listed above, you will have one less thing to worry about as you travel. If you have any questions about plumbing, electrical, and HVAC preparations, or need some help installing a home security system, call the experts at John Moore Services. We are around all holiday season and would love to help you keep your family and home safe and secure.