Preparing your home before a long vacation
The average homeowner spends about $100 a year on idle energy consumption by leaving their unattended devices and appliances plugged in. That’s a lot of money to spend, especially when you’re not at home to make use of it. Regardless of how long you'll be gone on vacation, here is some energy saving advice you can use to make your house safer and more efficient.
- Turning up the thermostat to 85 degrees in the summer will keep your plants, furniture and other belongings safe without raising your energy bill. Ask a friend or neighbor to water your plants if you’ll be gone for more than 3-4 days.
- Set security lights on variable timers. Replace incandescent security light bulbs with CFL bulbs, which are long lasting and energy efficient.
- Unplug small appliances like computers, televisions, internet modems and Wi-Fi routers.
- Make sure smoke detectors are always in good working condition with a fresh battery installed.
- Clean out the refrigerator and either unplug it and leave the door open to prevent mildew, odor and mold. Or you can keep it running and stocked with filled water bottles for efficient functioning.
- Turn off water at the main shut-off valve unless some household items require it to remain on (items such as an ice maker, a swimming pool or an automatic sprinkler system that doesn't have a separate shut-off valve.)
- Check for and fix any water leaks before you leave.
- Clean the gutters, check the basement for leaks (both in the interior and exterior foundation), extend your downspouts, inspect sewers and drainage, and consider back-flow valves for your sewage drainage lines.
- Pour half a cup of chlorine into the toilet bowl (not the tank) to avoid bacteria and stains.
- Keep the pool pump running so the pool doesn't develop algae and turn green. If you have a spa, turn off the heat. Have a neighbor, friend or pool service professional check the pool periodically to make sure the pump is working effectively.
- Set the temperature of your hot water heater to vacation mode if available. Linda Stanfield, owner of Benjamin Franklin, The Punctual Plumber, recommends leaving it on while you're gone and flushing it out when you return, as opposed to turning it off completely.
- Wash your sink to flush out food waste that could grow its own personality while you’re gone.Also, run the garbage disposal with half a cup of vinegar and some water before you leave.
- Leave your contact information with a friend or neighbor, including the contact information for your plumber, electrician, yard service, pool service and any other relevant services in case a problem should occur while you are away.
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