Tips for safely leaving your home this holiday season

Published by Parisa Ostovari

The holidays are here and that means travel across the country will be in full swing. If you have extended travel plans over the holidays, here are some quick tips to help you save a little money while ensuring your home is left a little more safe and secure.

  • Turn Your Thermostat Down. You may be wondering, “What temperature should I set my house to when we’re away?” Even a few degrees can make an impact on your energy bill. We recommend setting your thermostat between 60 and 65 degrees — it’s a safe temperature for your home and will save you some money. Just be sure not to set it too low if frigid temperatures are forecasted. So, how low can you keep the heat without your pipes freezing? We recommend going no lower than 55 degrees to prevent pipes from freezing.
  • Set Your Water Heater To Vacation Mode. Make sure to leave your water heater on. Most newer water heaters have a vacation mode, and it’s usually as easy as turning a dial. This will reduce the water temperature in the tank while you’re away and save you some money. Hint: Leave yourself a reminder on a table or counter to turn it back on upon your return.
  • Unplug Small Appliances. Some electronics account for nearly 10 percent of your home’s energy costs just by being plugged in. Standby power (also known as phantom energy) is when devices or appliances use energy even when they’re shut off (“power on” indicator lights, for example). Standby power costs you money over time, but it’s really unnecessary if you’re not even at home. Unplugging electronics and small appliances can save you some money, but it can also protect you from fire hazards. It’s especially important if you use space heaters in your home to always unplug them before you leave to be safe.
  • Make Your Home Look Occupied. You can have a trusted neighbor stop by a couple of times to check your home’s temperature, plus they can grab your mail, delivery items at your front door, etc. If you have a timer device, you can also schedule a few house lights (lamps work great) to go on at dusk and off at bedtime to make it appear that you’re home.
  • Arm Your Security System if You Have One. Set the system as the last checklist item before you leave. If you don’t have a security system, be sure to check that all the doors are locked.
  • Consider purchasing home automation products. From automated home security systems that include smart locks and video doorbells to smart lights and smart shades/blinds, you can make your home seem occupied even when you’re away. Plus, you can monitor or make adjustments from wherever you are. If you haven’t checked out home automation products before, we put together this Smart Home Holiday Gift Guide that features great ideas for gift giving — or even for yourself!