Switch Off On Holiday

Posted on: 29 June 2009 by Gareth Hargreaves

Homes expert and creator of DIY advice website cosyhomesonline.com Sylvia Marshall explains why it’s a good idea to safe-check your house before going on holiday to reduce risks and save energy and money.

Going on holiday is an exciting time as you look forward to relaxing and not worrying about daily chores or work.

However, one thing that people can still be concerned about is their home. So to help you relax completely when you’re away, here are a few simple steps you can take to keep your home safe and sound.

Avoid Advertising Your Absence

1) First of all, it’s always best to tell a member of your family, local friend or trusted neighbour that you plan to go on holiday and inform them of when you are leaving and when they can expect you to be back in the house. This way, any activity when you are away will be noticed.

If you can, ask them to carry out simple day-to-day tasks such as keeping the garden clean, watering plants or going into the house every day to make it appear that the house is still occupied and being used and maintained.

2) Make sure all ladders/steps are put away and secured and move benches and tables away from windows, ideally storing them away.

3) Remove any displayed items of value from the windows and don’t put the plants in the kitchen sink as it can be a sign through the window that you are away – the bath is far better!

4) Cancel delivery of milk or newspapers to avoid your doorstep advertising your absence. The Royal Mail provides a 'Keepsafe' service which will keep your mail for you whilst you’re away.

5) Security timer switches are a great idea for holiday security. They usually work as a plug socket adapter with a timer built in. The timer runs as long as the adapter is plugged in and the plug socket switched on. The timer can then be set to automatically give power to anything that is plugged into it such as lights, radios or other appliances.

This gives the appearance that someone is in the property and helps to deter burglars. You could also invest in a Remote Phone Switcher which allows you to dial in to your home telephone and instruct the unit to activate whatever appliance is plugged into it.

6) Check your window security measures. Unsecure windows are the entry point for almost a third of all burglaries. Window locks are a good precaution and simple to fit. Then, just before you leave do a last minute check to ensure all windows, doors and outbuildings are locked

Give Your Home A Holiday Too

1) Save both energy and money by setting the thermostat on your water heater to a cooler setting. In most homes the thermostat on the water tank is set for an absurdly high temperature.

In fact, in most households no one even knows where it is!  Generally, you will see a small box attached to the side of the tank and this will have a dial showing temperature settings. Most of us heat water up to 75°C and it sits unused only to be diluted with cold water when we need it.

Even when at home, you only need it as high as 60 degrees to cover the washing machine, dishwasher and baths/showers. So when you are away, you can drop this temperature right down to save energy and costs.

2) Empty your fridge of perishable products and adjust the setting on the refrigerator to a warmer temperature. You may also want to consider unplugging those electrical appliances that consume power when not in use, or in “standby” mode. These include computers, televisions with remote controls, VCRs, digital clocks and microwave ovens. These appliances use small amounts of electricity but combined, can really add up while you’re away. This also prevents them being a potential fire risk.

3) Something we’re often asked is about draining the water system before going away. Sadly, we cannot predict the weather but really this is a precaution best suited to winter.

If you are going to be away from your home for more than a day or two during colder weather you should drain down the cold water system. The process isn’t as daunting as you’d think; you just need to know where the stopcock is. For more advice on this, visit www.cosyhomesonline.com/50.

With all this taken care of, all you have to then do is have a great holiday and completely switch off in the knowledge that you have done all you can to make sure your home is protected and you are saving energy and money in the process.

Sylvia has set up a website to advise people on all kinds of DIY and home improvement jobs, providing simple guides and tricks of the trade to save time and costs. Visit www.cosyhomesonline.com/50.

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