Leaving your home during winter vacation has its own preparation requirements, what you must follow to ensure that your return does not come with one or more surprises.
1. Turn down the heat. You enjoy heating your home to 68 degrees or higher while you are present, but you can safely turn your heat down to 60 and your pipes won’t freeze. Go to your automatic thermostat and reset the temperature to 60 and then press the “hold” button. It’ll stay fixed at 60 degrees until you return home. You can drop your temperature down to 55 degrees if neither plants or animals are present while you’re away.
2. Check your furnace. Inspect your furnace before you leave. Make sure that the filter is clean and that it has enough water. With the thermostat set at 60 degrees, your furnace won’t be working as hard even if a cold snap hits while you are away. If your furnace hasn’t been serviced for more than a year, get that done before you take your trip.
3. Turn down the water heater. Why have your water heater work so hard when you are away? Turn the temperature setting down for the duration of your trip and you’ll save energy. If you have an electric connection, turn the water heater off. Reactivate the water heater upon your return and you’ll be able to do dishes or take a shower within a few hours.
4. Unplug unneeded equipment. Even with the lights out and you not using the microwave, a computer, or other nonessential equipment, power is being used. Keep your refrigerator plugged in, but unplug what won’t be used while you are away. Keep a few lights plugged in and on timers to thwart thieves.
5. Check your water supply. Shut off the main water switch to your home. Or at least the connections to the toilet and sinks while you’re gone. A plumbing problem could appear suddenly and go unnoticed while you’re away, an expense and a hassle you’ll have to handle upon your return. Inspect pipes in the basement and those nearest the walls for exposure. Wrap same if needed.
6. Hire a home minder. If you live in a particularly cold climate where snow is a possibility, line up an individual to shovel the snow in your driveway and on walkway while you are gone. This is important for two reason: 1), you won’t come home to a blocked driveway and home, and 2), your home will look as if someone is home, thwarting thieves. You’ll also avoid the potential liability of someone falling down while you’re away.
Winter Vacation Considerations
Besides having an individual keep your walk and drive cleared while you are away, you may want to have someone check the inside of your home every few days too. If a problem is detected, you can be notified and work with this individual to find a solution before you return home.