As May rolls around on the calendar, many people start making plans for vacations, or either already have those plans in place for summer. But planning for a vacation means more than just arranging flights or tuning up the car and changing the oil (if you plan to drive to your destination.) It also involves preparing your Long Island NY home for your absence.
No matter how long you'll be gone, whether a few days or several weeks (short-term absences generally mean one week or less), here are steps you can take to make your Long Island NY home safer and lower your utility bills. Keeping your home safe while you're away can also go a long ways towards keeping your homeowner's insurance costs down.
Details: An untrimmed lawn can be a sign to burglars that you are away from home. Depending on how it looks, it also can be considered neglect.
Short-term: Mow your lawn and trim shortly before your trip.
Long-term: Arrange for a lawn service or a neighbor to take care of your landscaping while you are away.
Air-conditioner (during cooling season)
An air-conditioner accounts for about half of your annual electrical bill in your Long Island NY home. Every degree you turn up the thermostat will save you 2 percent on your cooling costs.
Short-term: Turn up the thermostat to about 85 degrees. Doing so will still protect your plants, furniture and other belongings without running up your electric bill.
Long-term: Again, turn up the thermostat to about 85 degrees. Ask a friend or neighbor you trust to water your plants.
Details: No one wants to come home from a relaxing vacation to a plumbing leak in their Long Island NY home.
Short-term: Turn off water at the main shut-off valve, unless some household items require it to stay on. Such items may include an ice maker, an automatic sprinkler system that doesn't have a separate shut-off, and a pool.
Long-term: Do the same. While you're gone, have a neighbor or friend turn on the water and run the faucets at least once a month (if you're gone that long.) This will help prevent sewer gas from entering your Long Island NY home while you are gone and can keep parts of plumbing fixtures from drying out or cracking. Also, have the friend flush toilets and run the dishwasher.
Details: Why run up your electric bill heating water that you're not going to be there to use?
Short term: Set the temperature on "vacation" mode. Most newer water heaters are equipped with a vacation setting. The water heater will run occasionally but not nearly as often as it does normally.
Long-term: Set on vacation mode. Some experts recommend not turning it off while you're gone, but instead flushing it out when you return. One way to do this is to run the water heater until it has used all the hot water and let it refill again.
Details: Toilets can collect bacteria, which can cause stains.
Short-term: Pour a half cup of chlorine into the bowl (not the tank).
Long-term: Do the same. Have a friend periodically flush the toilets while you are gone.
Details: A continually dark house, both inside and out, can be a signal to a burglar that your Long Island NY home is vacant.
Short-term: Turn off all lights except the ones you want as security measures. Put the security lights on variable timers, not the ones that come on and go off at the same time every day. Smart burglars watch for this and it's a sure sign that lights are on timers.
Long-term: Do the above. Make sure your security lights are outfitted with CFL bulbs, which save on energy and are long-lasting.
Details: Don't come home from your trip to a refrigerator filled with spoiled food.
Short-term: Throw out perishables such as milk that will expire while you're gone.
Long-term: Clean out the refrigerator; either throw items away or give them to a neighbor. You have two choices. One is to unplug the refrigerator and leave the door open to prevent mildew, odor and mold. The other is to keep the refrigerator running. Don't let it sit empty, however. Fill it with bottles of water so it will run more efficiently.
Other considerations For Your Long Island NY Home for Vacation Time
- Small appliances, computers, televisions: Unplug these items.
- Smoke detectors: Make sure they are in working condition.
- Security company: If you have one, notify the company that you will be away.
- Disposer/drains: Run the disposer. Mix a half cup of vinegar with a cup of water and pour down.
- Newspaper: Put delivery on vacation hold.
- Leaks: Check for water leaks before you leave. Feel the valves underneath faucets to make sure they aren't moist. Get any leaks fixed.
- Mail: Contact the U.S. Postal Service to put your mail on hold. If you are going to be gone long term, arrange for your mail to be forwarded.
- Phone: Don't leave a message that you are out of town.
- Car: If you park your car in the driveway normally and are leaving it while on an extended trip, arrange for a friend or relative to drive it (or at least move it from time to time) so it looks like it is being used (and so cobwebs don't develop, a sure signal that no one is home).
- Banks/credit cards: If you plan to use your credit or debit cards while you're out of town, especically out of the country, notify your bank and credit-card company. Provide the dates you will be gone and where you are going. That way, they won't be surprised — or put a hold on your card — when they see charges from abroad.
- Emergency contact: Leave your contact information with a friend or neighbor. Include the names and contact information for your plumber, electrician, yard service, pool service or other contact should a problem happen while you are away.
- Locks: Make sure all your windows are shut and doors are locked before you leave your Long Island NY home for vacation.
For more articles and tips on homeowners insurance for your Long Island NY home, check out our Long Island NY Insurance section under Long Island NY Real Estate Categories to your right.