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Taking a winter vacation requires lots of preparation, especially  if you live in an area of the country where the temperature regularly drops below freezing.  Here are some steps to prepare your home for your winter vacation so you won’t have to worry while you’re away relaxing:

Check your plumbing. Before going away  turn off the water supply to your toilets, as well as the waterlines running to your washer.  Also winterize any outside hose bibs. Outdoor pipes are the most likely to freeze when temperatures begin to drop, and a frozen pipe can lead to a burst pipe, which means costly repairs and potential structural damage. For info on how to winterize your hose bibs, click here.

Adjust your thermostats down to 55 degrees. You’ll need to keep some heat in your home  to ensure that the water in the pipes doesn’t freeze and that your plants stay healthy, but there’s no need to heat it to a temperature comfortable for people. Keep all interior doors open so the air is continuously circulating.

Unplug electrical equipment like computers, televisions, cable boxes and DVRs, as well as smaller electrics like toasters.  Appliances consume electricity while plugged in, whether their on or not, so they should always be unplugged when not in use, but especially when you’re away for an extended period of time. It’s estimated that this so-called “phantom” power accounts for about 15 percent of a home’s total power consumption! 

Choose a few areas of your home to put on electric light timers.  This will keep lights on at certain times of the day or nights, so you’re not leaving a pitch-black home for the week(s) you are away.  This will help deter anyone who might be targeting your home for a break-in.

Cancel your mail and newspaper delivery. You can do this easily online (go to USPS.com), and some papers will even give you the option of adding the missed papers to the end of your subscription, or donating them to schools.

Collect and bring in to your dry cleaner any winter coats, heavy blankets or comforters, large tablecloths, etc. that could benefit from a good cleaning while you’re away.  This is a great opportunity to have items that you can’t do without day-to-day. If your cleaner delivers, make sure to tell them not to return your clean items until you call to ask for them to avoid them sitting out on your porch while your away!

Now enjoy your vacation!