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7 Things to Check off Your List Before You Leave Home for the Holidays

Simple steps for a smooth departure

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There may be no place like home for the holidays but, if you’re like millions of other homeowners across the nation, you’ve got winter travel plans. From saving on utilities to deterring burglars, here are five simple steps for a smooth departure.

  1.  Lower the thermostat. As long as pets will also be on holiday, opt for a sustainable 55 degrees Fahrenheit. This is warm enough to keep pipes from freezing but cool enough to significantly lower your energy bill.
  2.  Shut off water. A burst or leaking pipe could damage appliances, furniture and more. Shut off the water, flush toilets and run faucets to drain the pipes. Check your water heater’s settings and opt for “vacation mode”.
  3. Unplug electronics. Cut back on utility charges by unplugging larger electronics. Consider the washer, dryer, television and, most cost effective, the refrigerator. This is also the perfect time to thoroughly sort through, clean out or throw away any perishables. After all, no one likes coming home to rancid food.
  4.  Invest in timed lights. It can be difficult to unwind on vacation if you are worried about the safety of your home while away. Tamper some of this anxiety by investing in timed lights. To deter burglars, light up street-facing common areas like the living room or kitchen. Later in the evening, add a lamp in your bed or bathroom. Burglars may also think twice if they hear voices so, if especially worried, consider a timed radio set to a talk show. Want even more control? Automate your house and turn on/ off lights and electronics with an app on your phone.
  5. Get rid of your spare key. Don't make it easy to get into your house while you are away. Remove the spare house key from the hiding spot and entrust to a friend or family member in town. In a pinch, leave the spare key in a hidden lock box or in a controlled access garage or shed. Take your primary set of keys with you on vacation. 
  6. Arrange snow removal. Did you know you could be fined for not shoveling the sidewalk in front of your home? Un-shoveled snow is also a safety hazard and can be a sign you are gone, so make sure to set up snow removal ahead of time before you leave. There are usually numerous postings on Nextdoor where you can pay for snow removal for a reasonable fee from someone in the neighborhood (always ask for before and after pictures before paying, especially if remitting electronically through PayPal or Venmo). Or, if you have a friendly neighbor, consider asking them to help you out with shoveling with a promise to return the favor. 
  7. Stop the mail. Don't risk your personal identity being stolen. A full mailbox or items left behind on the porch too long is a sure sign no one is home. Hold the mail with the USPS for the duration of your vacation. Ask a neighbor you trust to check your door daily for packages or flyers.


Looking for that home for the holidays? Contact a local loan originator in the Motto Mortgage network who can help make your dream of homeownership a reality.