Although Spring technically begins on March 21st, the snow, bitter winds, and extremely cold temperatures we're currently experiencing suggest that the change of seasons is likely more than a few days away. Since warm, sunny days aren't quite on the horizon, many will be travelling to escape Old Man Winter's chilly grasp.
If you're choosing sun and surf over shoveling your driveway, there are some maintenance items you should perform around your home to help limit your energy consumption and keep your property safe. As you pack sunscreen and sunglasses instead of scarves and mittens, consider the following chores to protect your home and your wallet.
- Change the Setting on your Water Heater
Turning down your water heater while you're away can help reduce overall costs and energy consumption. Newer units will usually have a "vacation mode" so you can easily adjust your setting. However, if yours doesn't have this feature, simply adjust the unit to its lowest setting to achieve the same results.
Do not turn your unit off completely! Restarting it can sometimes require a technician, and tends to be a bit of a hassle.
- Lower your Furnace Temperature
If you know your home is going to be vacant for at least a week, it's a good idea to keep your furnace on, but at a low setting. We recommend keeping it above 15 degrees Celsius or 60 degrees Fahrenheit - this will help to save money and energy, without the threat of freezing water, burst pipes, or flooding.
- Pull the Plug on your Electronics
You might not know this, but many of your appliances will continue to draw a small amount of power when they aren't turned on or in use. If you're going to be away for an extended period of time, we'd advise that you unplug your appliances, like your TV, computer, or toaster, (not your stove or fridge), to help to curb energy loss and protect these items from getting damaged in power surges.
- Reroute your Mail
Letters, newspapers, and magazines piled up on your front porch or step can easily alert criminals to your absence. If you know you're going to be out of town long enough to amass a collection of mail, we advise that you arrange with your carriers to have it rerouted or held until you return. This will help to keep your empty home under the radar, and keep you organized - it's a win-win.
- Put your Front Lights on a Timer
This next tip may seem counter-productive for those focused on energy consumption and efficiency, but it is a good idea to put your front lights on a timer if you are going to be away for several days. This is another measure to protect your home from being the target of criminals. If your home stays dark for a prolonged period, it can alert people to your absence. Having your front lights set to turn on for a few hours each evening will provide the illusion that your home is occupied - without wasting too much electricity.
- Be Smart about your Social Sharing
Nothing tells the world "I'm on vacation for a week!" like Tweeting "I'm on vacation for a week! #Aruba #OMGThisBeach #YoureAllJealous". Social media is a large part of many people's lives, which has positives and negatives. It's a great tool to connect and share, but there is such a thing as too much information - especially when it comes to your safety. You may want to Tweet a countdown to your trip, Instagram the sights, and let everyone on Facebook know how awesome the beach is, but if you aren't careful, you could be sending a very different message. To combat your information getting into the wrong hands, it's a good idea to familiarize yourself with each platform's privacy settings and ensure that you are only sharing what you want with whom you want.
- Use the Buddy System
We hope that everyone who is travelling this season has a safe and fun trip. Already got away this Spring? March break might be over, but we feel these tips are valuable year-round, so remember them on the next vacation you take. If there's a Home Inspection topic that we've yet to cover on our blog or in our newsletters, make sure to reach out to us on Twitter or Facebook and we'll do our best to help.