House covered in snow

Securing Your Home for a Winter Vacation: A Checklist of Things to Go Over

When you live in Utah, winter sports and activities can provide an endless variety of diversions for an extended vacation. If you do plan on heading out for an extended trip, there are some essential things to consider for your home safety – here are a few crucial reminders.

Turn off the water

Sub-zero winter nights aren’t unheard of in Utah. You don’t want to come back from your trip needing to call a plumber because your pipes froze and burst and now you have no running water.

Before you leave, turn off the primary water source. Go through every faucet, toilet, and water heater, and drain them all – including both indoor and outdoor lines.

Set your thermostat

Regulating the temperature at home isn’t just for your comfort. If you leave in winter, keeping the house warm is another measure to protect your pipes. And if your vacation extends into the warm summer months, cooling will help lessen humidity.

Use a smart or programmable thermostat to manage your home temperature while you’re away automatically. You can specify the range of temperature to conserve energy; a good rule of thumb is usually 5 degrees above or below room temperature, as appropriate to the season.

Unplug electronics

To conserve energy and reduce fire risk, go over the house and unplug all non-essential electronics – gadgets, appliances, even water heaters for a long absence. You may wish to leave a router plugged in if you’ll be using some form of smart monitoring while you’re away; if not, disconnect the power for that as well.

Tidy up

Woman wiping the kitchen counterCleaning up your home before leaving takes care of one chore that you won’t be looking forward to when you get back. More importantly, it will prevent pest activity in your absence.

As much as possible, secure what food you can in airtight containers, and dispose of the rest. If you are shutting down your freezer, empty it as well. Take out the trash before you go, and make sure to inspect and treat any areas of the home that might be harboring pests.

Security measures

Simply leaving the lights on may not be enough to deter would-be thieves these days. Timed lights can be set to go on and off at different times, randomized if possible. Taking things a step further, you can program your smart TV to come on at certain times, making it appear as though someone’s watching.

No matter how much you lock up and double-check all windows and doors, it won’t help if you’re informing everyone on social media that you’ll be far away for a long time. Regulate the information you post, and avoid geo-tagging.

Check insurance

Going over your insurance before vacation is a prudent step. You may not have noticed some clauses or restrictions. For instance, absences of more than four days without turning off the water can render a policy invalid in some cases.

Find someone you trust

Securing your home before your winter vacation will go a lot easier if you can trust a neighbor or house sitter to look in now and then. A power outage, for instance, can damage or reset smart devices – you might not be able to access your home network remotely anymore. You could also have mail piled up if you forgot to have the postal service hold your mail.

Make a checklist of everything you need, and do the rounds of your house at least twice. Ensuring your home is secured will ease the weight off your mind as you enjoy the holidays.

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