As the New England weather gets colder, it’s time for snowbirds to pack up and get ready to fly south for winter vacation. If you’re leaving Massachusetts for the winter, and no one is house sitting, there are several important things you need to do to make sure your empty home will be safe (and energy-efficient) while you’re away.
Be sure to properly prepare your home so you can truly relax all winter long while you’re basking in the Florida sunshine. Need tips on how to reopen your winter home in Florida? We can help with that too! Check out our blog “Florida Snowbirds: How to Reopen Your Winter Home.”
Closing Your Home Before You Fly South for Winter Vacation
Leaving your home for an extended period is no small feat. You need to ensure your Massachusetts home is adequately closed up to prevent damages, energy loss, and even intruders! Before you get on the plane, be sure to do these things.
One of the biggest fears that plague snowbirds is that intruders will take advantage of their empty house. The good news is, there are many different ways to ensure no one will try to break into your home while you’re gone.
- Call your post office to hold your mail or have it forwarded, and cancel your newspaper delivery service. If mail or newspapers start to pile up, it’s a dead giveaway that no one is home.
- Set timers to turn lights on throughout the day to look like someone is home, and turn off the ringer on your phone. A phone that repeatedly rings without an answer is a clue that the house might be empty.
- Hire a plow service or a neighbor to clear snow for you – including any snow that might pile up on your roof.
- Contact your local police department to let them know the home will be empty and give them a trusted friend’s number as an emergency contact.
- If you have a home alarm system, be sure to set it and lock everything up. If you have outdoor furniture, move it inside or in a stored location to keep it out of the cold and prevent burglars from stealing it.
- Finally, ask a trusted friend, reliable neighbor, or family member to check in every once in a while. It may be beneficial to have a house sitter visit every once in a while, too. Sure, the whole process might seem like a lot of work, but it’s worth it to protect your home and your peace of mind.
Unplug Unused Appliances
Devices that are plugged in use energy even when they’re not in use. Save energy this winter by unplugging all unnecessary devices like small appliances and even your washing machine. Be sure to pay extra attention to your big, energy-sucking major appliances. Unplug and clean your fridge, and leave the door open to prevent odors. Be sure to leave your dishwasher open for the same reason.
Test Your CO and Smoke Detectors
You always want to know that your home is safe, but it’s especially important when you won’t be there to take care of it. Check the batteries on your smoke alarm and carbon monoxide detectors and make sure they’re working.
Shut Off the Water
Frozen pipes can burst, causing extensive (and expensive) damage to your home. Don’t let your pipes freeze; turn off your water before you leave. If no one is going to be in your home while you’re away, it may be best to turn off the main shutoff valve. Be sure to turn off outdoor valves as well. Although it is not necessary, you may also want to have a professional drain your pipes to erase any possibility of water damage.
Check the Thermostat
While you won’t need to keep your home at temperatures comfortable for people to live in, you need to run your heating system. You’ll want to keep your thermostat set at a reasonable temperature: warm enough so that your pipes don’t freeze, but cold enough that you don’t spend your extra money on a hefty energy bill.
The recommended temperature is between 55 and 60 degrees. The best way to regulate temperature while you’re gone? Install a programmable thermostat! Not only will you be able to set the exact temperature you want to keep your home, but you’ll also be able to monitor it wherever you are. You will always know what temperature your thermostat is set to, even if you’re across the country.
Change Your Furnace Filter
Sure, you won’t be keeping your home at 75 degrees all winter, but your heating system will be in use. A dirty filter makes your heating system work harder, which uses more energy. Changing the filter is a simple way to cut down on your winter energy costs. On top of that, a clean filter cuts down on dust, meaning there will be less cleaning to do when you return in the spring.
Perform General Home Maintenance
You get to escape the winter, but your home doesn’t. Make sure to prepare your home for winter with some basic maintenance. Clean your gutters, clean and close up your fireplace, close up your swimming pool, maintenance your water heater, and take steps to prevent ice dams.
It’s also worth checking your home for air leaks and reevaluating your insulation needs. Taking these extra steps in the fall ensures your home will be well prepared to face the bitter New England winter.
A Home Energy Assessment: Your Home’s Best Defense and Save Money, Too!
A lot goes into preparing your home for your winter absence. If you’re unsure where to begin, a home energy assessment from Energy Monster can help you find areas of inefficiency in your home and address them. Your energy technician will help ensure you aren’t losing energy through leaks or improper insulation. We can even provide you with a programmable thermostat! Schedule your home energy assessment today; you’ll leave for the winter feeling assured that your home is safe and energy-efficient.