The holiday season has arrived! And while many families will be prepping large feasts and decorating their homes and yards, many others have plans to visit friends or family out of town, or maybe just take a vacation away from the cold. If you’re planning to leave your home unoccupied for a prolonged period, keep these four simple tips in mind.

  1. Lower the temperature inside the home

One of the easiest ways to save money on your gas or energy bill is to use less heat in the home when you’re not actually there. It can be very tempting to turn your thermostat down to spring-like temps if you’re planning a long trip, but be sure it’s not too low as there’s the risk of your pipes bursting – causing a much bigger problem than a slightly higher energy bill.

Setting the thermostat at around 50 degrees is sufficient to keep pipes from bursting. If there are pets in the home, raise the temperate accordingly to keep them safe and comfortable.

  1. Unplug the outlets

We previously outlined how unplugging some appliances, considered ‘vampire appliances’ can save money on your energy bill, but it’s also important to do when you’re going away. In the rare case of an electrical surge, some appliances may spark if loosely connected to an outlet, causing risk of fire. Take the time to remove plugs from outlets to eliminate the risk (and save a few dollars, too).

One appliance you should keep running is your refrigerator, but be sure to dispose of any perishable foods to avoid coming home to unwelcome, offensive odors.

  1. Perform routine maintenance before you leave

While pipes bursting is likely every homeowners biggest fear while away, it’s just as important to assure your larger appliances are running strong. Be sure to maintain electrical power if required to keep the heating system running. If electrical service to the home is to remain on, consider having a licensed electrical contractor inspect your main electrical panel, wiring and outlets. This way, they can repair or replace anything that may be defective. Have your heating system inspected and serviced before snow falls and have fuel tanks filled before you leave.

  1. Make it look like the house is occupied

One thing that is always top of mind for homeowners is safety, and that’s definitely true while your house sits vacant while you’re away. During a short trip, leave a few lamps on throughout the house to make it look occupied. For a longer vacation, invest in inexpensive automatic timers that can turn off lights on and off at staggered intervals, making your house look occupied. Alert your home-security service or a trusted neighbor so one or the other can keep an eye out as well.

These are just a few ways to protect your home while you’re away during the winter months. Check out our other Your Power blogs for more great tips.

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