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Keep your home safe and reduce energy usage when you’re away


New sights, great weather, quality time with family and friends – a vacation is a great way to kick back, relax and have fun. But an enjoyable getaway can quickly sour if you’re interrupted with news of a problem at home.

Before you depart, take these simple precautions to keep your property safe and save on your electricity bill.

Give it that lived-in look

Unoccupied dwellings are especially attractive to thieves. Take the following steps to give the impression that your home is lived in:

  • Keep one car in the driveway, or have a neighbour park their car in your driveway periodically.
  • Keep curtains and drapes slightly open and put your lights on timers. Consider installing motion-sensor lights outside.
  • Have your mail collected at least every 24 to 72 hours and temporarily cancel the delivery of your newspaper.
  • Depending on the season, have someone shovel your driveway after a snowfall or cut your lawn if you are away for an extended period.
  • Delay posting your vacation pictures or travel plans on social media until you return home. While you’re away, send travel updates and pictures to friends and family through email.

Check in through your phone

Monitored home security systems are a good way to deter burglars. Many home security companies now offer monitoring and automation through your smartphone. Some features include the ability to turn your lights on and off, lock your doors and view live video of your home.

Consider the elements

One of the biggest causes of property loss in winter is a result of frozen water in pipes. In an unoccupied home, burst pipes can leak for days before they are detected. For trips longer than five days, shut off the main water valve to your house and drain the pipes by running all fixtures until the water stops.

If you have a fire sprinkler system, don’t shut off the water supply to it. Water damage caused by fire sprinkler systems that have ruptured as a result of freezing is covered under your Co-operators home policy.

Learn more about how to prepare your home for winter weather.

Unplug and save

While you’re away, unplug televisions, cable boxes, stereos, computers and chargers. Not only will this protect these devices against a power surge, but you’ll also save on your electricity bill. Even when turned off, some devices will continue to draw power.

For extended vacations:

  • Unplug major appliances like your stove, washing machine and clothes dryer.
  • For extended trips, clean out your fridge and turn it to its highest (warmest) temperature setting.
  • Turn your water heater to the lowest (coolest) temperature setting. When you return, turn it back up an hour before you use the hot water.
  • In summer, raise your thermostat to a higher temperature than you’d normally set it, to save on air conditioning costs.

Most home insurance policies require you to have someone check your home if you are away for more than five days. It’s always a good idea to leave a key with a neighbour and make sure they have your contact information should any issues arise.

These simple steps can help you to relax, enjoy your vacation and come back to a safe property.