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The summer represents a time of sun, sea, BBQs and – most importantly – holidays. After months on end of working long hours and having to put up with the UK’s rainy weather throughout the year, going away on holiday during the summer can be an incredibly exciting time. Many of us count down the days, minutes and hours prior to our holidays taking off, impatiently waiting for that long-awaited time off.
However, before you dust off those swimming trunks and sunglasses, you first need to prepare your house before you head off. After all, the last thing you want is to come back to a crazily high heating bill because you forgot to turn the thermostat off, or a ransacked home because you forgot to check your doors before you left.
In order to ensure your home remains in tip-top condition for when you get back, make life easy for yourself by following our top X home maintenance tips.
A fairly obvious one to start with, but having a house sitter look after your home while you’re away can offer you the peace of mind that everything is under control. Not only will they look after your pets and plants while you’re off on holiday, but they will also make it appear as if it’s not been left unoccupied for days on end – making it much less likely to be burgled as a result.
House sitters will also keep the general running of your home going while you’re away. Even having menial tasks done, like putting the bins out or bringing your mail in, can make it feel that much better when you arrive back from holiday. However, make sure you completely trust the sitter you choose – otherwise, you could just end up feeling more stressed while your away.
Let’s face it – there’s simply nothing worse than coming back from holiday to find a huge energy bill on your doorstep. Save yourself a lot of money by turning your heating off, or setting your thermostat/heating schedule to an ‘away’ option if it has one.
While it may be the last thing you want to think about before you set off, maintaining your heating system before you go away could also save a lot money in the long run. If your home’s heating is powered by an oil tank, for instance, the warm weather of the summer months can cause moist air to build up within it, leading to rust and corrosion. This, in turn, can lead to leaks, which can be very expensive to sort out. Check your heating system before you go away, and top it up with oil, LPG or whichever heating chemical you use to heat your home.
It should be fairly obvious to everyone by now but, before you set off on holiday, you need to lock your doors and windows. Otherwise, you will only be making life easy for thieves to break in and steal your belongings.
Locks can diminish over time though, so make sure to check that they are still functioning effectively before setting off. Doing so will also prevent your doors easily swinging ajar while you’re away, keeping your home safe.
Letting your neighbour know that you are going away for a while is a quick and effective way of keeping your home secure. If you know them well enough, you could even ask them to pop around once every while to check that everything is still OK. After all, since they live in such close proximity to you, they are best placed to spot any problems or signs of trouble in your absence.
OK, so you might not need to unplug every single one of your appliances, but you should definitely think about turning off a lot of switches before you go away. This is not just due to saving money, it’s also important from a safety point of view. Many appliances, such as hair straighteners, irons and ovens, pose a fire risk when they’re left on, so make sure to turn them off in order to stop your home burning to a crisp while you’re not there.
Depending on how long you are going away for, your garden could get out of hand in your absence. Arrange a gardener to come around and maintain it while you’re away, mowing the lawn, tending to your plants and cutting back your hedges. That way, when you return, your garden will still be looking as good as it was before – if not better.
Social media is great for so many things and, while on holiday, it can be incredibly tempting to upload snap after snap of what you’ve been getting up to. However, this isn’t always sensible from an insurance or security point of view, as it advertises to the world that you’re not at home.
Plus, as this article clarifies, taking photos of your passport, boarding pass or credit card details and sharing them online is never a good idea. You may trust in your friendship circles but the internet is a huge, relatively unsafe place, so it’s important to think carefully about what you choose to post online.
In order to create the illusion that somebody is still at home while you’re away, anti-theft light timers are your best friend. Plug a lamp into one of these devices and program it to come on at certain times of day. If a wannabe thief sees that the lights are on in your property, they are unlikely to try and burgle your home. Plus, putting your lights on for only short periods of the day will keep your energy costs down over leaving lights on the whole time. So, it really is a win-win all the way round.
Again, to create the illusion that you’re still at home, keep your car parked on your driveway or in its usual space, to make it seem like you’ve not gone away. Don’t park your car miles away in a secure car park – doing so will only raise suspicion. Obviously, I recognise that this won’t always be possible, as most people tend to use their cars on holiday but, if you aren’t using it, don’t change your normal parking routine.
This article is part of a series of lifestyle content pieces written for Moving and Improving by Annie Button. Find out what else Annie has been up to over on Twitter: @anniebutton1994 or visit more of Annie's amazing articles in our related blog section.
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