Love Your Home? Then Protect it While You’re Away . . .

Can’t wait to get out of town for a much-needed vacation? Make sure you don’t ruin your trip by returning to a disaster at home. Here are some tips to help prevent an unpleasant homecoming:

Unplug all appliances. Believe it or not, phone chargers, computers, televisions and coffee pots all continue to use energy even when turned off.  Unplugging them before you leave will not only save energy, but help prevent damage from lightning strikes and power surges.

Raise the thermostat. Air conditioning uses a significant amount of energy, so turn the temperature up 10 degrees higher than it is usually set. Better yet, install a programmable thermostat that will allow you to turn the AC on just before returning home.

Clean the garbage disposal. You don’t want to come home to the unpleasant odor that results from an unused garbage disposal. Before you leave, flush it out with half a cup of white vinegar and hot water while the disposal is turned on.

Change the setting on the water heater. There’s no need to heat water for an empty home. Adjust the water heater to vacation mode. If the water heater does not have a vacation mode, turn the temperature down.

Put lights on a timer. According to the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.), there are more than 2.15 million burglaries each year. A dark home is a sure sign that no one is there, so put a couple of lamps on a timer inside the home. Set these to go on and off at different intervals.

Avoid stagnant water. Water left inactive in the toilet can produce a foul odor and a difficult-to-remove ring that forms around the bowl. To prevent this, place half a cup of bleach in the toilet bowl just before leaving home.

Stop your mail or have a friend, neighbor pick it up every day.

Taking these steps will ensure that not only your vacation is relaxing, but your return home as well.