7 Ways to Protect Your Home While You’re on Vacation

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The anticipation of a summer vacation is so exciting! Once your lodging, transportation, and sightseeing activities are all lined up, there’s nothing left to do but go, right? Not so fast. There’s one more important detail you should consider before taking off on your summer excursion: your home security. Whether you’ll be gone for a few days or a few weeks, make sure your home is well-protected from a variety of circumstances. From deterring pesky burglars to preventing weather damage, the following tips cover a range of ways to keep home sweet home safe and sound while you’re away.

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Having the lights off for a consecutive number of days can be a clue to burglars that no one’s home. While you could leave a light or two on for the whole duration of your trip, that’s a good way to jack up your electric bill. To give the illusion that you’re home, set lights on timers to turn on and off at scheduled times of the day, like when you’d arrive home from work and before you’d go to bed. This also appears more natural than having your living room lamp on through the wee hours of the night. Don’t forget to install motion-detecting lights for the porch and other dark areas of your home’s exterior. (Bonus tip: Smart lighting systems let you control your lights from virtually anywhere, so you don’t have to rely on an old-fashioned timer.)

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If you’ll be away for more than a few days, asking a friend to check on your home while you’re away can provide some additional peace of mind. Ask them to get your mail, water plants, feed your cat, or just do a drive by every day to keep an eye on things. If you can’t find someone to help out, at a minimum, remember to stop your mail as piles of unopened mail and newspapers are another indicator that nobody’s home.

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It seems silly to cool a house no one is in, but your house can suffer from the heat, too! Shutting off your A/C in the summer can damage your home by letting too much humidity in. While you may save a few bucks on your utility bill, doing so can cause wooden doors and floors to swell, and mold to grow. It can also force your fridge to work overtime, and can be damaging to electronics as well. Instead of turning your A/C completely off, turn it up. The pros recommend setting your air conditioning to about 85 degrees while you’re away, which will still allow air to circulate without your A/C having to work to keep your home cool all day long. (Bonus tip: Install a smart thermostat that lets you program and adjust the temperature from wherever you are.)

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From coffee pots to TVs to laptops, remember to unplug appliances before you take off. This not only saves on energy costs, but will also protect your electronics from power surges, while mitigating the possibility of an electrical fire.

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There’s nothing like a neglected, uncut lawn to signal an unoccupied home to potential intruders, especially next to your neighbor’s freshly cut grass. Remember to arrange for lawn care while you’re gone. Plus, you don’t want to let that curb appeal slide.

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Hello, Captain Obvious here. We know it’s a no-brainer, but just for good measure, set a reminder to lock all doors and windows. Remove any spare keys from under the doormat, and if you have an alarm system, set it! (Bonus tip: Consider a smart security system for an easy way to monitor your home and control access to visitors, like the cat-sitter, from afar.)

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Who doesn’t love posting pictures of their adventures while on vacation? As tempting as that may be, doing so lets practically everybody know that you’re out of town … inadvertently creating an open invitation to thieves. Instead, wait until you’ve arrived safely home to tell the world about your journey. If you just can’t help but share your travels while on the road, at least set your accounts to private.

Taking care of these tasks before you go will help you make the most of your summer getaway, so you can rest easy knowing your home will be just the same as you left it: secure and safe.