Leaving Home for the Holidays

Preparing your home before a vacation in any season is a must. However, if you’re in a region struck by extremely cold weather, like us in Chicago, there are a few extra precautions you should take before leaving for some holiday fun. Start making a checklist for what needs to be done a week or two in advance, and add the following tips to enjoy a worry-free and well-deserved vacation.


  • Unplug Appliances & Electronics - Unplug all electrical devices except for your refrigerator. Appliances and electronics like coffee makers, microwaves, and TVs all draw power, adding a few bucks to the electric bill. Doing this also eliminates a possible fire hazard if there would be a power surge while no one is home.
  • Turn Down the Heat - This is a big one. Setting the heat around 50 degrees is sufficient to keep appliances and pipes from freezing. Make sure pets are properly taken care of though; if they are left in the home, the temperature should remain at a comfortable setting for them.
  • Turn Off the Water Supply - Turn off the main water supply to your home and open all faucets to drain them. Leave one faucet open on the lowest level of the house to allow air and excess water to drain. Be sure to flush the toilets to drain the water in the tanks. This way, if your furnace stops working, the water in the tanks won’t freeze, expand, and crack the porcelain. For the excess water that remains in the bowl, add a little non-toxic marine antifreeze to it. Simply flush it away when you return.  
  • Use Timers - Timers are a great way to give the illusion that someone is home. Timers are available at home improvement stores for around $10 and can be set to turn lights on and off at different times of the night, as if someone in the house flipped a switch. 
  • Hold the Mail - Depending on how long you'll be gone, consider having USPS hold your mail to prevent an overflowing mailbox! Simply head to usps.com and right on the home page, you can set up the dates you would like them to hold the mail, instead of delivering it. This also gives the impression that someone is home.
  • Alert your Banks - If you're traveling out of the country, this is particularly important. Set aside 10 minutes to alert your bank and credit card companies of your upcoming vacation so you won't run into issues while you're away.