Everyone loves a vacation. The ability to get away from it all and just enjoy a few days or weeks of relaxation is an important way to shed work stress and refocus the mind. However, what everyone does not love is coming home to a stack of bills or spoiled food in the fridge. To make sure your homecoming is as relaxing as your vacation, all you have to do is go through the right shut-down procedures on the day of your departure. Here’s how to prepare your house so that you pay smaller bills on vacation months, not more.
Turn Off Everything
If you usually turn the lights off in your home before leaving for work or going to bed, so that only with ten times the thoroughness. Find lights you’ve completely forgotten about to turn off and switch off every appliance that does not absolutely have to remain functional. In fact, the only two appliances you need to have plugged in for most homes are the fridge and HVAC system. Unplug what you can as well to reduce the phantom load.
Switch Off the Water Main
Your house cycles water through the water heater, toilet, and the occasional leak all day long and for the most part, this keeps things convenient for you. However, while you’re gone you can safely stop your house from wasting a single drop of paid-for water simply by shutting it all off at the water main. This is where the city water supply (or your well) attaches to the home plumbing.
Clean Out the Fridge
No one likes coming home to whithered fruit and fuzzy cheese so do a careful audit if your fridge before you leave the house. In the last few days before your trip, try to eat everything that can go bad and resolve to throw out anything that could spoil while you’re gone. Then take out the trash and make arrangements with a neighbor to handle trash day for you if possible.
Program the Thermostat
The health of your home depends on temperatures staying between about 40 and 85 F, so your HVAC will need to remain at least partially on while you’re gone. Depending on your climate, set it to whatever will cause the thermostat to work the least amount and consider two scheduled settings for daylight and evening temperatures.
Set the Water Heater
Though the water main is off, the water heater is still full and will burn power trying to keep that water hot and ready. You can prevent it from doing this but still allow self-maintenance by setting your water heater to ‘vacation mode’ which many modern models have now. This will cause it to run much less and be ready to power back up for a relaxing shower about an hour after you get home.
Ask a Neighbor to Check-In
Just in case something crazy happens like a burst leaking pipe or an attempted burglary, ask a nearby friendly neighbor to keep an eye on your house and walk all the way around it at least once while you’re gone. If you trust them as a friend, give them a key and ask them to check in every few days while you are gone just to make sure everything is OK and the thermostat is succeeding at minimal use.
Rent Out Your Parking Space
Most vacationers don’t realize that there are opportunities to actually make a little money back during the trip through the sharing economy. Even if you’re not comfortable (or won’t be gone long enough) to book your home as a hotel-alternative on Airbnb or VRBO, you can still book your parking spot to a fellow traveler in need of somewhere safe to put their vehicle while they visit your city or neighborhood. Through apps like ParqEx, you can rent out your spot by the hour or by the day while you’re gone and if someone needs it, that’s a little slice of your trip that pays for itself.
Seal and Lock all Doors and Windows
Finally, when you’re preparing to leave the house, check every single external door and window. Make sure they close tightly, check the integrity of the weather stripping, and turn the lock into place. Then test the doors and windows to make sure the lock actually holds. Some window locks break in a way that is invisible. If you have a broken window lock, use a stick or a sturdy ruler to prevent the window from sliding open.
Once your house is completely shut down and secured, you are free to head out on your vacation confident in the knowledge that your home will be comfortable, smell nice, and with sporting unusually low utility bills when you get home. For more great tips on how to vacation efficiently both on the road and back at home, contact us today!