Vacations are meant to be a relaxing escape where you can leave your daily worries behind. But wait a minute. Did you forget to turn off the oven? What if there’s a winter freeze while you’re gone or someone breaks into your house?
Being miles away from home can be stressful even if you’re in the middle of paradise. Rest assured there are things you can do before you leave to worry less while you’re on vacation.
Use a Monitored Home Security System
Just having a home security sticker on your front window is enough to deter some burglars. For all of the other thieves who are more determined to get inside, a monitored home security system can thwart a burglary.
Monitored home security systems like ADT Pulse allow you to keep tabs on your home even when you’re miles away. They are connected to apps you can access as well as a monitoring station manned by security professionals. If an alarm is triggered, an immediate alert is sent to the monitoring station, and if needed, the local authorities are also alerted. You can also remotely turn the alarm system on and off, which comes in handy if you have someone coming over to house-sit or pet-sit while you’re gone.
Set Up Wi-Fi Connected Cameras
When I’m traveling with the kids, I bring a video baby monitoring system along for the ride so I can keep tabs on what’s happening in the backseat. You can do something similar to supplement your security at home with extra Wi-Fi connected cameras. These security cameras provide a feed that can be viewed in real time over the Internet. Even if you don’t catch a crime or accident as it’s happening you can set the system up so that the feed is recorded.
Setting up a few cameras on the interior and exterior is a good idea if you know others will be around your property. For instance, if you have a housekeeper who’s coming by or a dog walker who’s agreed to feed your pooch each day.
Pay Bills in Advance
I’ve already set up as many bills as possible on autopay so there’s less concern over missing a payment. But it never fails that a few have to be paid month by month. Some, like credit card payments, can come with expensive fees if the payment is late. Go ahead and make sure all of your payments are taken care of before you leave. If you want to wait for the payments to go through on schedule just include a later date on your check.
Turn Off or Adjust the Utilities
If you’re going to be gone for more than a week or so it’s often best to shut the utilities off if no people or pets will be home. During the winter when pipes can freeze and burst this is an even better idea. In addition to avoiding a costly catastrophe, turning off the utilities can also help you save a little extra money.
Turn off the water main. Water damage can be prevented by simply turning off the water main to your house. Turning off the main water supply will cut off water inside the home but allow the sprinklers outside to stay on schedule. The only instance where you wouldn’t want to do this is if you have a fire sprinkler system.
Shut off and empty the water heater. This prevents the appliances from needlessly reheating water that isn’t going to be used anytime soon. When you reconnect the water heater make sure it refills with water before you switch it back on.
Adjust the thermostat. An HVAC unit can waste tons of energy if you don’t adjust the temperature before leaving. During the warm months bump the temperature up to 85 degrees Fahrenheit. In the winter bump it down to 60-65 degrees. Just make sure to keep the system on to prevent damage from freezing or extreme heat.
Keep the electricity on but unplug electronics and appliances. You’ll need an electric supply for your security lights, alarm system, HVAC and refrigerator. However, just about everything else can be unplugged. This will help you avoid vampire energy consumption and a possible fire hazard.
Have a Neighbor Keep an Eye on Things
You don’t want to announce to the world that you’ll be away from home, but you may want to tell a select neighbor. That way they can keep an eye on things while you’re away. Ask them to make sure timed lights come on when they are supposed to and to let you know if there’s suspicious activity. It’s also a good idea to have them pick up your mail if you’re going to be away a week or more.