Preventing a Summer Break In: Protecting Your Home When You're on Vacation
As the start of summer draws near and the kids finish up school, many people plan to take a much needed summer vacation. With all the things you need to remember to make your trip a success, it can be easy to forget the little things you can do to keep your house safe while you're away.
We've compiled some maintenance tips to help limit your energy consumption and keep your property safe. As you pack sunscreen and sunglasses, consider the following items to keep your home protected this vacation season.
Change the Setting on Your Water Heater
Turning down your water heater while you're away can help reduce overall costs and energy consumption. Newer units will usually have a "vacation mode" so you can easily adjust your setting. However, if yours doesn't have this feature, simply adjust the unit to its lowest setting to achieve the same results.
Don't turn your unit off completely! Restarting it can sometimes require a technician, and tends to be a bit of a hassle.
Turn Off Your AC
If you're not going to be home, you can turn your AC right off. Remember there are plenty of houses in Toronto that have no AC ever so no damage will be done by turning it off.
Pull the Plug on Your Electronics
You might not know this, but many of your appliances will continue to draw a small amount of power when they aren't turned on or in use. If you're going to be away for an extended period of time, we'd advise that you unplug your appliances, like your TV, computer, or toaster, (not your stove or fridge), to help to curb energy loss and protect these items from getting damaged in power surges.
Tip: If you have a second refrigerator that you use for things like pop you CAN turn it off. Often people will use older fridges for this purpose (think garage or basement fridge) and these older units draw a lot of energy. Unplugging while you're away can amount to savings on your bill and you're doing your part to reduce energy consumption while you're away too! Win-Win!
Put Your Front Lights on a Timer
This next tip may seem counter-productive for those focused on energy consumption and efficiency, but it's a good idea to put a few of your lights on a timer if you are going to be away for several days. This is another measure to protect your home from being the target of criminals. If your home stays dark for a prolonged period, it can alert people to your absence. Having your lights set to turn on for a few hours each evening will provide the illusion that your home is occupied - without wasting too much electricity.
Be Smart About Your Social Sharing
Nothing tells the world "I'm on vacation for a week!" like Tweeting "I'm on vacation for a week! #Florida #OMGThisBeach #YoureAllJealous". Social media is a large part of many people's lives. It's important to combat your information getting into the wrong hands, by familiarizing yourself with each platform's privacy settings and ensure that you are only sharing what you want with whom you want. You may also want to consider posting trip posts and pics AFTER you've returned home if you have any "followers" that you don't know personally.
Use a Buddy System
There are a variety of benefits to have someone stop by to look in on your place while you're away. It gives you peace of mind, ensures there is someone visibly around the property to deter criminals, it keeps you aware if any issues that may arise. We encourage homeowners to enlist the help of a friend, family member, or neighbour to check in on their home. Should your area experience any extreme weather, it's valuable to have someone who can either confirm that your home's systems are functioning normally or assist you in dealing with any issues that have arisen.
Tip: Make sure if you have home delivery of newspapers and/or mail that you have someone go by to get it or suspend your service until you return. Mail out front is a tell tale sign that someone hasn't been home for a while.
Update Your Security Company
Remember to update your alarm company with up to date contact info for you and an emergency contact. It can be easy to forget that your Mother-in-law changed her phone number or your best friend moved away. So make sure they are up to date before you leave with details on your trip and correct contact info if anything comes up.
We hope that everyone who is travelling this summer has a safe and fun trip. If you're looking for more home maintenance advice and some light reading for the beach, make sure to check out our blog. If there's a Home Inspection topic that we've yet to cover on our blog or in our newsletters, make sure to reach out to us on Twitter or Facebook and we'll do our best to help.