It’s time for your well-deserved vacation and you’re busy packing all of the necessities for a break from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. But don’t rush out the door too fast! Here are nine things you need to remember before you head off for your vacation destination…
1. Turn off any breakers that won’t be needed while you’re gone. This can save you a pretty nice little chunk of change. Sure, you could just leave everything in the “off” position, and you’d still save some money, but many modern electronic devices still draw power even when they’re “off”. By turning off your breakers, you’re also doing a lot to lower the risk that your electronics will be hit by a power surge while you’re gone. Of course, don’t turn off the breaker to your fridge, air conditioner, or security system. You’ll still need these things (among a few others) to be running while you’re gone.
2. Clean out your refrigerator and pantry. Many people rush out the door dreaming of sandy beaches and not thinking about what their house might look or smell like when they get back. Before you leave, clean out any perishable items that might go bad while you’re having your fun in the sun. That way, your house doesn’t smell like a garbage dump when you walk in the door upon your return. Take the perishable food over to your parents’ or even a local food bank.
3. Clean, bleach, and plastic wrap your toilets. Yep, you read that right: plastic wrap. I’ll get to that in a minute. First, clean your toilet with your normal cleaning supplies to make it nice and clean. Who wants to come back home to toilet bowl rings? Then, pour in some bleach. This helps prevent mildew, which is part of what creates that musty smell in your house while you’re not there. This last (and strangest) step is optional, but great for people in warm, humid climates taking extended vacations. Tightly wrap plastic wrap over the bowl like you’re trying to seal up leftovers (that is, air-tight). You see, in warmer climates, water can evaporate from the toilet bowl and allow sewer/septic gas to leak into the house. You don’t want that. It’s smelly and can even be dangerous.
4. Set your air conditioner to a reasonably high temperature. Just bumping your temperature up a few degrees will allow you to save a decent amount on your power bill. However, setting your AC to 80 degrees (that’s about 27 Celsius for our metric friends) or more will cut your energy bill down significantly. Just remember that if your AC isn’t running much, it’s not taking the humidity out of the air, so be conscious of what the things in your house can tolerate. For example, musical instruments made from wood (guitars, cellos, pianos) don’t tolerate high heat or humidity very well, so if you have a high-end instrument, set your AC at the point where it will kick on every now and then to keep the temperature and humidity in check.
5. Turn off the water. Well, turn if off to whatever extent you’re comfortable. This is a matter of personal preference and may depend on how long you are leaving your house. Some people shut off water to their entire house while they’re gone. This takes the pressure out of your plumbing and ensures you won’t spring any costly leaks. Of course, turning it back on underneath the house right after a long car or plane ride isn’t exactly fun, so you could just hit the shutoff valves at each of your water-using appliances. The most vital are the washing machine, any leaky faucets, toilets that run constantly, etc. Of course, fixing these things before you leave would be nice, but not everybody may have that kind of time.
6. Buy timers for a couple of the lights in your house. These create the illusion that your house is still occupied, even when it’s not. Some timers even allow for different settings for different days. This is the kind of timer you want to buy. If all of your lights come on at the exact same time every night, it’s going to be rather obvious that they’re on a timer. Set each of your two (or more) timers to come on and turn off at different times each day. You might even set them to turn off or on near the same time to simulate someone coming home or going to bed.
7. Try not to order anything for delivery while you’re gone. Or, if you do, have it delivered to a friend or neighbor. There are two reasons behind this: 1) You don’t want whatever you ordered to sit outside for weeks on end. 2) Some professional criminals follow delivery trucks around to see if anybody answers the door when the driver knocks. This, along with leaving the packages on your doorstep while you’re gone, leaves the impression that you’re not around.
8. Remove any hidden keys. If no one is home and your neighbors aren’t extremely nosy, a burglar has virtually unlimited time to look around your house for keys. Make sure he doesn’t find any.
9. Recruit a friend to go by your house from time to time. You don’t really need to give them a key, either. All they need to do is pull in, make sure there aren’t any packages at your door, grab your mail, and ensure nothing looks broken or vandalized.
Do you have any helpful tips to add to the list? Let us know in the comment section!