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Is Your Home Ready for Vacation?

School is almost out, summer is almost here, and many families are ready to “get out of Dodge” and make their summer travel dreams come true. Whether you are headed to the beach, the mountains, or some exotic port of call, your travel planning includes more than buying plan tickets, booking hotels, and researching itineraries. You also need to make sure your home is ready for a vacation as well!

Don’t Let Mail Pile Up

You don’t want to let mail and newspapers pile up at the mailbox. This is a BIG “no one is home, come rob me” sign on your home. You can make arrangements to have a neighbor collect your mail for you, but it may actually be easier to just suspend delivery for the time you are gone. Call the newspaper circulation desk or see if if your local paper has an online form to halt delivery on their website. You can usually specify when you want delivery to resume, with no impact to your subscription.

In addition, you can also ask the post office to suspend delivery of our mail. The USPS has an online form that you can use, or just fill out a form the next time you are at the post office. When you return from your trip, you can pick up your accumulated mail at the post office, which keeps it safe from mail pilfering, as well.

Hire a Lawn Service

Similar to piled up mail and newspapers, an unkempt lawn may be another clue to potential thieves that your home is vacant and ripe for the picking. If your vacation is short, say about a week, you may not need to do anything. But if you are going to be gone a couple weeks or longer, then you should consider hiring someone to mow a couple of times while you are gone. You may be able to save some moulah by hiring the teenager down the street to do it, or you can call a professional service. Whichever option you choose, keeping your home looking lived in is the ultimate goal.

Time Your Lights

Sometimes you have to balance the safety of your home with energy conservation. You certainly don’t want to leave lights on 24/7 while you are gone, but but a home that is constantly dark is going to provide an additional clue to would-be thieves that no one is home. If lights turn on and off automatically at night, it will give the impression that the owners are home. You can do this with a standard timer that you plug into an outlet, then plug lights into the timer. Or, if you want to be super fancy, a “smart home” system will allow you to control the lights and schedules from an app on your phone. Turn the lights on at 7pm and off at 10pm, back on at 5am and off at 6am (or whatever schedule you keep). This will minimize energy usage, while giving the impression that the owners are home. .

Change Your Thermostat Settings

Your first thought may be to save a few bucks and turn off the a/c while you are away on your travels. No one will be there to enjoy it, right? However, doing so may put your home at risk. Your a/c does double-duty in the summer. Not only does it keep your home cool and comfortable for habitation, it also removes humidity from the air. If you turn the a/c off completely, especially during the hottest, most humid Washington DC weather, that heat and humidity will accumulate in your home, and provide a ripe environment for mold and mildew to grow.

You can still reduce your energy usage with a simple adjustment to your thermostat, and still prevent your home from become a mold smorgasbord. Bump your thermostat up to about 85 degrees to reduce how often your a/c runs and save energy.

Likewise, when you travel in winter, there are good reasons to no turn your furnace all the way off. Frozen pipes can cause quite a mess to clean up, especially when no one is home to know that there is water flooding your home. If you are planning a winter getaway, keep your thermostat set to around 55, and open the doors to all the sink cabinets in your kitchen and bathrooms, to allow the warmer air to circulate around the pipes.

Smart home thermostats can allow you to monitor our home’s temperatures and make adjustments to the settings from an app on your phone.

Unplug Your Appliances

With the exception of the lights that you have set on timers (see above), you should unplug all unused appliances in your home. The idle energy used by your stove, microwave, coffee maker, TVs and other appliances are an unnecessary energy drain when no one is home to use them. Plus, unplugging computers and TVs will save them from electrical surges that may happen during a weather event while you are away.

Clean Out the Refrigerator

If you are only going to be gone a week or two, you may not need to clear out perishables from your fridge. But an extended trip is an opportunity to completely empty your fridge, clean it thoroughly, and leave it unplugged and open while you are gone. You should defrost your freezer periodically, anyway, so now is a good time. Put a box of baking soda on a shelf in the fridge to absorb odors, and leave it unplugged to to conserve energy while you are away.

Enjoy your travels this summer! Be safe and take care of your home in advance for a worry-free trip! When it is time to sell or buy a home, having a local team you can rely on will make the process a smooth one. Call the Realtors® who love where they live and understand the local real estate market. ADMC Realty Group happily serves the communities in and around the Washington DC, Maryland, and Northern Virginia areas. From start to finish, we’re here to help with all your Real estate needs. Give us a call at (202)596-8101 or email us at [email protected].

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