The promise and excitement of getting away for a week or two during the summer does come with one big responsibility: caring for your vacant home while you’re away. To be worry-free while on vacation, address these five elements:
Create the illusion of being home
Ask someone you trust to keep an eye on the house, because someone coming and going is the best way to disguise that you’re gone. Maybe even ask a neighbor if they can park their car in your driveway now and then. Have your “caretaker” remove mail and pick up newspapers off the lawn, and open and close different blinds or curtains in the house, and do confirm that all windows and doors are securely latched.
Random patterns of light and noise are typical when we’re home, so replicate that while you’re away. Along with motion detector lights on the exterior of the home, invest in timers that operate different exterior and interior lights at different times each day and night. Sound is as important as light, so set up a timer to operate a radio and television at random times each day.
Also, see that the lawn gets mowed regularly, as tall grass is a sure sign of no one home.
Before you leave for vacation, check gutters and downspouts for clear drainage so you don’t come home to a flooded basement, and check any trees close to your home for dead limbs that could damage your roof during a storm. During storm seasons, close up the patio umbrella and secure any patio furniture so it won’t blow away.
Thermostat Setting for an Empty House
Cooling an empty house is expensive, so finding the best thermostat setting is a valid concern. When the temperature is set too high, humidity build up can cause mold and mildew growth, or damage wood. Humidity damage usually occurs above 90 degrees. So, what setting will protect both your home and the utility bill?
If you don’t have a digital programmable thermostat, leave it set to 80 degrees, and turn the blower to “on” so that the air constantly circulates to avoid humidity build-up. When time permits, it’s best to switch to a programmable thermostat because they are simple to install and provide long-term positive results.
If you do have a programmable thermostat, a good solution for saving money while protecting against humidity is this pattern: 78-80 degrees during the day and 75 degrees from 3 – 5 a.m. The theory is that intense cooling in the early morning hours removes moisture from the inside air, thus keeping relative humidity low as the temperature changes to the higher setting for the rest of the day.
If you have no concerns about watering lawns or gardens, then shut off the water to your house where it enters the home. Set your water heater to vacation mode or its lowest heat setting, depending on the model, to keep it running at a minimum level while saving money on the energy bill. Check your sump pump for proper operation and install a backup battery to assure it runs in case of a power outage.
Unplug everything but the refrigerator, freezer (though empty and turn off the ice maker), answering machine and the lights and audio/visual items you have on timers. Remember to turn off all ceiling fans.
A special tip about the refrigerator is to remove all items with short shelf life (like produce or left-over meals), and bump up the temperature a couple degrees to cut down on the amount of energy used. Also, do not leave any perishable foods (fruits, vegetables, bread) lying on counters to avoid gnats, ants and other varmints.
Following these simple tips will keep yours a home ready to welcome you back with open arms after a wonderful vacation. If you’d like help with any of these tips – like installing a programmable thermostat to back-up battery for the sump pump – call the Mosby Building Arts team at 314.909.1800 or contact them here.