How to protect your home before going on vacation

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Whether in the tropics or on the runways, if you’re going on a jet-set vacation for an extended period of time, the last thing you want to think about is a problem occurring at home.

Amy Nagy, Home Security Expert at SimpliSafe, provided her expertise on protecting your home while on vacation. “In the rush to get out and get to the airport, it’s easy to forget even the simplest tasks like taking out the trash,” says Nagy.

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So while you’re packing for the sun, snow, or whatever adventure awaits, you’ll also want to prepare your home for when you’re away. Planning ahead and installing some must-have smart security devices will allow you to relax on the beach without worrying about whether you remember to lock the front door.

Here’s what you need to do before you travel.

Create the illusion that someone is home

Create the illusion that someone is home by asking a neighbor to drop by to drop off the mail and check on your house.

Leaving your home vacant while you’re away makes it vulnerable to burglaries. You don’t have to turn to Alone at homestyle tactics to keep burglars out. Instead, create the illusion that someone is home.

“When your home is occupied, it’s a less attractive target for burglars,” says Nagy.

Putting your lights on timers can help. This way your lights turning on and off at varying times implies someone is home. Installing a motion-activated light outside can also help, as it will respond to any movement, deter home invaders, and alert your neighbors to any uninvited guests.

If your home lighting system is connected to your Alexa, using the Routine feature makes this task easier.

Speaking of neighbours, have a friend or house sitter watch your house and bring the mail. (If you have no one to stop you, schedule the USPS to stop your mail while you’re away.) This adds visible activity to your home. Better yet, get a neighbor to temporarily park at your place so there’s someone coming in and out every day.

In the event of a major weather event or power outage in the neighborhood, you should show the person sitting for you where the circuit breaker and water valves are.

If you are traveling for a longer period, you should not interrupt lawn mowing (depending on the season in which you are travelling) or snow removal or shoveling in the event of a snowstorm. Not only will this save you time and headaches when you return from your trip, but it will show that the maintenance and monitoring is happening in your home.

Unplug all unnecessary devices

Any appliances left plugged in, even when not in use, will consume energy and increase your electricity bill.

Since you’re splurging on vacation, you’ll want to do what you can to lower your utility bills while you’re away. Any appliances left plugged in, even when not in use, will consume energy and increase your electricity bill.

You’ll want to keep major appliances like your fridge plugged in to preserve your perishables. However, countertop appliances like microwaves, air fryers, electric kettles and toasters can be unplugged.

If you leave smartphone or tablet chargers behind, take the time to unplug them. Even better, getting a power strip to plug in your devices can save you time since you can turn them off with the press of a button.

Get the Belkin power strip and surge protector from Amazon for $21.99

Protect your plumbing

Leaving your faucets open to a small stream of cold water will prevent your pipes from freezing in cold weather.

If you are unfamiliar with your water heater, go downstairs and take a look at the settings it offers.

Most water heaters have an “away” or “vacation” mode. Turning this setting reduces your energy bill while you’re away.

If you live in a cold climate and travel in the winter, you’ll want to protect yourself against freezing pipes. Leaving your faucets open to a small stream of cold water won’t increase your water bill, but it will will protect your pipes from freezing.

You also want to avoid accidental flooding while you’re away, so using a smart water leak detector is a smart move. This way you may even be able to turn off your water from an app.

Get the Moen 920-004 Flo Smart Water Leak Detector

Regulate the temperatures of your home, higher or lower depending on the season

You want to keep your home at a temperature that’s safe enough from freezing or overheating, but low enough to keep heating and cooling costs affordable.

If you have a lot of houseplants, 60 degrees is the lowest temperature most houseplants need to survive. If you have pets that you entrust to a pet sitter, 64 degrees is the ideal temperature that will keep your furry friends safe and comfortable.

Upgrading to a smart thermostat lets you control the temperature from anywhere, giving you peace of mind.

Get the Google Nest Learning Thermostat on Amazon for $228

Make your home security system a little smarter

An intelligent security system keeps you informed if an emergency were to occur at your home.

“One person cannot watch a house 24/7, but a [security] the system can,” says Nagy. Traditional fire detectors can sound a loud alarm, which is of no use to you if you are away from home.

Smart fire detectors can send you alerts to your smartphone if something goes wrong. This way, you’ll be the first to know and can coordinate getting help while staying at your vacation destination.

Before you go on a trip, you might want to consider installing a DIY home security system so you can keep up to date with events around your home. With the addition of a smart lock, you can control your door locks through your home security system. That means if you forgot to lock the door, you can do it at the airport, says Nagy.

By installing a video doorbell, you will benefit from video surveillance so that you can record yourself and/or record suspicious activity. Additionally, doorbells like the Google Nest Doorbell offer two-way audio. If a delivery person walks by with a package, you can use it to communicate and ask them to bring it to a pick-up point so the packages don’t pile up.

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