Steps to Prepare Your Home Before a Summer Vacation

Coming home from a vacation is always bittersweet. But coming home to a house in complete disarray? That experience can turn the whole trip sour.

From burglary to bad weather, a lot can go wrong while you’re away from home. It’s up to you to be proactive in protecting your home during your time away.

Steps to Prepare Your Home Before a Summer Vacation

These are a few of the important steps you should take to prepare your home before a summer vacation.

1. Put Mail On Hold

here’s no clearer sign that nobody’s home than a mailbox overflowing with flyers and envelopes. Worst still is an unclaimed package sitting on your doorstep, which is practically a magnet for opportunistic thieves.

To prevent mail from arriving while you’re on vacation, you will have to purchase a mail hold from Canada Post. There are two ways to put your mail on hold in Canada:

  1. Visit the Canada Post website and pay for Hold Mail by credit card.
  2. Print and fill out the Hold Mail form and bring it to a post office.

In both cases, you must pay for the hold at least five business days before you want it to begin.

2. Unplug Appliances that Consume Phantom Power

Did you know up to 10% of your electricity bill stems from things that aren’t even running? “Phantom power” refers to the electricity appliances and electronics consume while in standby or sleep mode. The average Canadian has 25 or more of these devices in their home!

Common appliances and electronic devices consume phantom power include:

  • Desktop and laptop computers
  • Printers
  • Modems and Wi-Fi routers
  • Televisions
  • PVR devices
  • DVD and Blu-Ray players
  • Stereos
  • Video game consoles
  • Alarm clocks
  • Garage door openers
  • Kitchen appliances with a digital clock or display (microwaves, ovens, coffee makers, etc.)

Unplug these appliances before leaving for summer vacation. You will not only save electricity, but also protect them from a power surge during a summer thunderstorm.

As an extra benefit, going through the process of unplugging your devices might remind you to pack your cell phone and laptop chargers!

3. Clean Out the Fridge

Whether you have a full-size refrigerator or a smaller apartment-size fridge, you should take steps to prepare it before leaving for summer vacation.

It goes without saying that you shouldn’t leave behind any food behind that is set to expire, but if your fridge breaks down while you’re gone, even longer-lasting foods could turn.

If you plan to be away for longer than a week, clear out the fridge as much as you can.

4. Put Away Lawn and Patio Furniture

Has your patio set ever been toppled by a summer wind storm? It could happen again, and this time, you won’t be there to set things right.

Patio furniture strewn about the backyard signals to strangers that you haven’t been home since the storm. Best to put these items away in the garage before you go.

5. Program the Thermostat

Is it worth running central air conditioning while you’re away on vacation? In many cases, the answer is yes.

Keeping the air conditioner on helps to regulate the humidity in your house. High humidity can do a lot of damage to wooden fixtures and furniture, and excess moisture inside your home creates an ideal environment for mould and mildew.

While you may not want to turn off the AC entirely, you should turn the thermostat up 4-5 degrees so the temperature indoors is closer to the outside temperature. This simple step will reduce the amount of power it takes to cool the house.

6. Remove Portable Air Conditioners and Window Air Conditioner Units

There are benefits to keeping central air conditioning on while you’re on summer vacation, but the same may not be true for portable air conditioners and window air conditioner units.

The reason is this: both appliances require a partially-open window to run (portable air conditioners have an exhaust duct that sits in the window). Open windows aren’t a big concern when people are home, but when the house is empty, unlocked windows could be an entry point for burglars.

If your portable or window air conditioning unit sits in window on the ground floor, consider removing them before leaving on summer vacation.

7. Take a Photographic Inventory of Your Home

Off the top of your head, could you describe everything of value in each room of your home? Chance are, you’d miss a few. That’s the problem photo inventories are meant to solve: they provide photographic proof of significant items in case something is stolen or damaged.

Photo inventories are a useful thing to have at any time, and it will give you additional peace of mind while preparing your home for a summer vacation.

To compile a photo inventory of your home:

  1. Use a camera that takes clear, colour photos. A good cell phone camera will do.
  2. Go through the house one room at a time and take photos of each significant item separately.
  3. Smaller items, like books and clothing, can be recorded together.
  4. For expensive electronics, take photo a of the serial number and model number.
  5. Store photos in a secure place (like a safe deposit box) or store digital copies in the Cloud.