Whether you’re taking a cross-country road trip or escaping to a beachside resort, planning a vacation involves a lot of work. While usually occupied with packing and checking delays, many travelers forget to prepare their homes before leaving. If you don’t want to come back to any unexpected surprises, here are a few ways from Progressive's Life Lanes site to help prep your home before you leave for vacation.
Clean and tidy up your space
After hours of travel no one wants to come back to a dirty house. The feeling of coming home to a home in disarray may put a damper to the end of your relaxing vacation. You don’t need to make sure your home is completely spotless, but it’s wise to do a thorough walk-through to ensure everything is tidy.
Cleaning your home before you leave shouldn’t be something you only do to give you peace of mind while on vacation. It’s something you should do to also avoid potential mishaps upon your return. For example, if you leave fruit on your counter, you may come back to an uninvited bug infestation or an unpleasant odor that lurks in the kitchen for days.
Empty your refrigerator and take out the trash
While you’re cleaning your home, take a look in your refrigerator for any leftover food that may go bad in your absence. Carry out or leftovers may become rotten or create a bad smell after sitting in your fridge for days.
Additionally, it may be a good idea to take out the trash as well. If you forget, you may run the risk of foul smells or unwanted pests.
Take proactive measures to prevent fires
According to a study conducted by the Natural Resources Defense Council, nearly a quarter of all residential energy consumption comes from idle devices. Before heading out the door on vacation, unplug your electronics and devices around your home.
Keeping your devices plugged in not only wastes electricity, it also increases your chance of an electrical fire in your absence. In a recent report from the National Fire Protection Association, the second leading cause of U.S. home fires was electrical failures or malfunctions. If you want to save money and protect your home from a fire hazard, do your due diligence and unplug your electronics.
Program your thermostat
Another great way to save on energy costs is to install a remote thermostat. Installing a remote thermostat allows you to control the temperature of your home from your mobile device. Installing a remote-controlled thermostat is also a great way to pre-heat or pre-cool your property before you return. Coming home to an extremely hot or cold house can also put a damper on your return.
As long as you have a Wi-Fi connection, remote-controlled thermostats can cost between $100 and $250 dollars.
Schedule your lighting
Potential thieves spot vacant homes by the absence of lighting. A simple way to deter break-ins is putting your lighting on timers. To accomplish timed lighting, you can either use analog timers or upgrade your lighting and use smart bulbs.
You can control your smart bulbs directly from your mobile device. This allows you to create the illusion of someone’s presence at home. If you really want to get fancy, you can even program your TV to turn off and on. This may convince intruders someone is actually home.
If you plan to control your lights while you’re away, be sure to keep them plugged in when unplugging your other unused devices.
Ask someone to collect your mail
Before you leave for vacation, ask a friend, neighbor, or family member to get your mail. If your mail is piling up or your mail person continues to skip your home, this may alert intruders that you are away on an extended stay.
Check all windows and doors
When you’re rushing out the door to your flight, it’s easy to leave a window or door open. Be sure to check all of your windows and doors before you leave. You don’t want to leave your house exposed to potential trespassers.
Install a smart doorbell
Many smart doorbells are equipped with video cameras, motion sensors, and two-way audio capabilities, to alert you when someone approaches your door. While you’re away, you may also be able to record video of any suspicious activity in case a break-in occurs.
Monitoring the activity on your front doorstep can give you peace of mind and discourage thieves from entering your property.
Connect smoke and carbon monoxide detectors
If your home is empty, how will you be able to detect a carbon monoxide leak or a fire? Remote detectors listen to your smoke and carbon monoxide sensors to alert you in case of an emergency. Most detectors plug directly into your outlets and will notify you if they sense an alarm.
Be sure to double-check the manufactured year of all of your detectors to confirm compatibility with your new monitoring device. Many devices require very little installation and won’t require you to change all of the alarms in your home.
Additionally, it may be wise to review your insurance policy to ensure you have enough coverage to properly rebuild your entire home. Many homeowners insurance policies only cover enough to satisfy the mortgage amount and do not cover the total replacement costs. In the case of a fire, you want to ensure you're covered.
Install a security or surveillance system
There are numerous surveillance and security systems and cameras that can help you meet your security needs. Many of the devices above may already come with security capabilities, so before you purchase another device, make sure you aren’t already in possession of a device that can serve this purpose.
Installing a surveillance or security system can help you keep an eye on your property while you’re away. In the event you do have an intruder, remote security systems and surveillance systems can notify authorities, dispatch police, and save your home from expensive break-ins.
Not only do security systems help keep your home safe, they may give you the opportunity to get a discount on your homeowners insurance.
This list may seem overwhelming. However, if you want to avoid unexpected surprises upon returning from your vacation, you may want to take the time to complete each task.