In Chicago, it’s time for a vacation to someplace warm so we thought you’d appreciate the best tips to keep your home safe while traveling.
Remember that time it snowed for days without end? Yeah, that was fun. At least it wasn’t below freezing. That’s not until next week.
Now is the time of year most Chicagoans start to question their decision to live in a place where the air hurts their face. It’s always darkest before the dawn, as the saying goes. And the last two or so months of winter are certainly that.
To help you survive this winter, you’ll need a vacation. Luckily, we have two airports servicing warm destinations around the country and across the globe.
The Best Tips To Keep Your Home Safe While Traveling
1. Plan Ahead
First on our list of the best tips to keep your home safe while traveling is planning. This means before you even book your flights, do the leg work on necessities. Things like day cares, kennels, and other places to care for your loved ones.
We don’t mean to say you’ll forget to take care of kids or pets – though Home Alone was shot here. We’re simply saying do it before you book flights. You’d be amazed how common flight change fees are when your kennel can’t board your Pomeranian show dog for one or two days right in the middle of your getaway.
2. Make Some Friends
The second of the best tips to keep your home safe while traveling involves getting to know your neighbors. Or simply establishing a relationship with a trusted caretaker. This step is especially important for those of us who own single family homes or townhouses. Any property with direct street access is always more at-risk.
Cultivating a relationship with people who know your area (and know you) is critical. It gives you two important things: A) someone to pay attention to your home and B) the peace of mind that someone is watching your home. If you go this route, be certain to make any relevant parties (like an alarm company) aware of who this person is. Likewise, give your caretaker any relevant notes, like alarm codes for the house and the secret password in case it goes off.
3. Don’t Be Obvious
The next of the best tips to keep your home safe while traveling dovetails with the second. In this case, don’t make obvious changes to your home routine while you’re gone. The best example here is curtains. If you’re typically a curtains open type, leaving them shut for days or weeks at a time will definitely arouse suspicion.
Try to leave things as normal as the generally are. Having a trusted caretaker makes this easier, as they can do simple things like bring in the mail, flip some lights on or off, and change curtain positions.
4. Be Aware of Electricity…
Number four of the best tips to keep your home safe while traveling focuses on not making you pay excessively into Comed’s retirement fund. Though the previous entry may make it tempting to leave your lights on, you will incur substantial electrical costs (LED lighting is somewhat of an exception). One solution would be purchasing a Wifi-enabled timer system that lets you leave lights on automatically or turn them on remotely.
Perhaps less obvious is the precaution of unplugging electronics around your home. This is especially important for expensive items like TVs, exercise equipment, and computers. Not only do many of these items consume power even while off, a sudden power surge could damage or destroy it (yes, even through a surge protector). It’s often better to deal with resetting a clock than replacing a treadmill.
… and Even More Aware of Heat
The number five entry of the best tips to keep your home safe while traveling means you stay very alert of the heat in your home. Again, for those of us in homes where we are responsible for water and plumbing, this step could very well be the most important. No one wants to come home to a nightmare flooding scenario. Be sure you’re keeping your house warm enough to prevent frozen pipes. Take proper steps to ensure you guard against this, including installation of a smart thermostat (like Nest or Ecobee) and take the time to either install pipe insulation yourself or hire it out.
As an addendum to this entry, pay attention to the setting on your hot water heater. Assuming you have a heater that stores its heated water, it’s often prudent to lower the setting to it’s lowest mode without turning it off. On older analog models, the mode is often called VAC for “vacation”. Lowering this doesn’t risk anything, since the hot water isn’t actually helping your pipes, but will save you a substantial amount on your heating bill. Heating water is on of the most expensive utilities incurred by a household. No need to heat water for an empty house.
5. Be Wise About Your Web Annoucements
The final entry in the best tips to keep your home safe while traveling covers that which covers eveything: social media. Nowadays its tough to live without being connected. There’s an allure of keeping in touch with family and friends. And the pleasure of feeling like they’re right there with you. But that can often lead to extensive disclosures of privacy over a notoriously insecure network.
You don’t want to wait until you’re back to post your pics. You know, those amazing photos of the sights, the food, and that one ancient bathroom with no toilet paper. But be judicious about where and how you share. It may be prudent to create a separate private group. A group with those people who’d really like to share in your experience. Remember, a good portion of home invasions are perpetuated by people who know a little bit about you. For example, where you live, the quality of things you own, etc. Be wise when, how, and with who you share your plans.
6. Keep Your Home Safe While Traveling – Use Technology
Many of us already use technology to make our homes healthy. For more on that, read our article entitled Best Tech Gadgets For A Healthy Chicago Condo. So why not also use technology to keep your home safe while traveling. For example, consider purchasing a WiFi security camera. You can then view your home anytime from your phone. Just some nice peace of mind to check in with the house while you are out!
And finally, ditch the fake rock with the spare key. It’s not fooling anyone.