How to Prep Your Home When Heading on Winter Vacation
8 great tips for protecting your house while you're gone
The whole point of a good vacation is to get away from your daily routine and relax, worry-free. But leaving behind your home, especially in winter, can create a lot of stress. Unfortunately, some things can happen to your home while you're gone—from things as small as a dead houseplant to as major as a destructive pet, burst pipe, or home fire.
For peace of mind when you're gone on a winter trip, there are a few simple tricks and tips you can use to get your home vacation-ready.
Plan for pets.
Make sure to book any pet care or pet sitting—expect to pay around $75 a night for an overnight pet sitter, or about $40 per day for someone to come and care for your pets. Boarding kennels tend to book well in advance of major holidays so be sure to secure a spot as soon as possible. And keep in mind that sometimes a kennel is the best choice—anxious pets don't do well with long absences, and even the best-behaved pup can get destructive or fretful in your absence.
Take care of plants.
Top off plants with extra food and water or arrange to leave with a neighbor or friend. If you'll only be gone for 5 or so days, most plants will do fine. If longer, invest in a few self-watering bulbs that hold a small amount of water that slowly drips into the soil.
Turn off the water.
If you're going for an extended period, turn off the water at the main valve where it enters your house. Your plumbing probably won't spring a leak during your absence, but it's not worth the gamble—pipes can freeze and burst in extreme cold, leading to devastating flooding and water damage.
Have plans for snow removal.
If you typically DIY your snow removal, consider hiring a neighbor kid or local plow service to clear in case of storms while you're away. It's no fun coming home to a driveway buried in 18 inches of snow.
Adjust the thermostat.
Heating and cooling account for 48% of your home's energy consumption. According to the Department of Energy, you can save 1% of your energy costs for every 1 degree that you adjust your thermostat for 8 hours. There's some math in there, but the bottom line is that savings add up quickly, especially if you kick the temp down about 10 degrees while you're gone, which is a safe recommendation and won't let your pipes freeze. Just remember if you have plants or pets that might need the extra warmth to adjust accordingly.
To lower the risk of fire as well as your next utility bill, you can unplug quite a few items when you're away:
- WiFi router
- electric kettle
- stereos/gaming consoles
You'll obviously want to leave the refrigerator plugged in, as well as your lighting—which we'll get to next.
Set some lights on a timer.
This one is a classic for good reason; having lights on is a sign that someone's at home and deters potential theft. You can easily find a simple timer at the hardware store that will do the trick for just a few dollars. But as more and more homes have smart features or other automation, there are plenty of cool options—for example, smart light bulbs that you can program and control with your phone in conjunction with platforms like HomeKit, Alexa, and Google.
Have a trusted friend or neighbor keep an eye on things.
Even if you don't need a daily visit from a house or pet sitter, having someone stop by to check on things, pick up mail, or shovel the walk is always a good idea.
Clean before you go.
In the flurry of activity before vacation, cleaning may seem like the last thing on your to-do list, but there's nothing better than coming home to a clean, welcoming house. A few things you should put on your checklist:
- flush all toilets and close lids
- empty all trash cans
- throw away any perishable foods that might turn scary (like bananas)
- load and run dishwasher
- empty washer and dryer
- run garbage disposal and make sure kitchen sink is empty and dry
A vacation is a great chance to get away and relax, but coming home is also a sweet reminder of how important our homes are to us. At Lennar Mortgage, we understand how important it is to protect your biggest investment and enjoy home life worry-free. For more information on what a Lennar mortgage can do for you, get started at lennarmortgage.com.