Protect Your Home While You Travel for the Holidays: A Checklist

Protect Your Home with Our Holiday Travel Checklist

You might be looking forward to traveling over the river and through the woods this Thanksgiving, but are you secretly dreading how high your energy bills could go while you’re away? And what about your home’s security? It might be less nerve-wracking to worry about what the kids are packing but these details are important to your trip.

Never fear! Here’s our holiday travel checklist to help you protect your home so you can focus on having fun during this festive season.

Protect Your Home While You Travel for the Holidays: A Checklist
While you’re enjoying turkey with the in-laws, make sure your home is in tip-top shape.

Heat, Light, & Security

  • Adjust your programmable thermostat to its vacation setting. This should be a maximum of 65° F (18° C) and at a minimum of 55° F (13° C). While this will prevent house plants and plumbing from freezing, refrigerators function less efficiently when temperatures fall below 60°F for extended periods of time.
  • Check your remote connection to your smart thermostat and verify its vacation settings. Update any software and resolve any problems before you leave. Smart thermostats can be used as smart hubs to operate smart light bulbs and numerous other home security devices using your laptop, tablet, or smartphone. This can provide you with real peace of mind while you’re away from home.
  • Connect lamps to plug-in timers. This is helpful when you don’t have smart bulbs. You can stagger the on/off timings between lamps to create the appearance of normal activity in your home.
  • Get your heating system inspected. If you’re planning a long trip, do this 3-4 weeks in advance by an HVAC professional to head off problems before you leave.
  • Close curtains on north facing windows to keep rooms warmer.
  • Lower the humidty setting to prevent condensation problems.

Save Electricity

Protect Your Home While You Travel for the Holidays: A Checklist
Because you don’t want to come back home to a fridge full of smelly food.
  • Consider unplugging the fridge. Keeping your fridge cold can be expensive. But if you’re going away for extended period, you don’t want to come home to moldy leftovers. Either empty the fridge entirely, or fill it with staples that have long shelf lives.
  • If you don’t unplug the fridge entirely: Turn off the icemaker. Turn off the water supply to the appliance. If your fridge and freezer will be less than 1/2 full, put jugs of water (not filled all the way) inside to help maintain the temperature.
  • Turn off appliances with stand-by power that will not be used. Things like televisions, home theatre systems, game consoles, heaters, battery chargers, gadget chargers, computers and their peripherals, water filtration systems and softeners, air filters, fans, and microwaves. Each one doesn’t use much electricity, but together the amount can really add up.

Other Key Steps

Protect Your Home While You Travel for the Holidays: A Checklist
Lock every possible door, window, or entryway before you leave on your extended holiday vacation.
  • Turn off your home’s water supply and drain your home’s taps. This will avoid a major disatster in case the power fails and your plumbing freezes. When you return, just turn the water back on at the main shut off valve, flush rust or sediment out of the lines before you turn off the taps, and turn up your water heater.
  • Lock all windows and doors securely. Sliding door locks can be strengthen by using a steel security bar.
  • Ask a reliable friend or neighbor to watch your home. Give them a spare key and a short list, such as collecting the mail, watering plants, or other things to keep an eye on while you’re gone. Make sure they have your contact information and your itinerary so you can both stay informed. Remember to buy them a little souvenir gift as a reward.

Gas Price Update & Set Your Alarm Clock!

Protect Your Home While You Travel for the Holidays: A Checklist
What is this piece of paper with lines, shapes, and colors on it? I usually ask Siri for directions!
  • Gasoline prices are a lot lower. As in, they are 65¢ cheaper compared to this time last year. AAA is now predicting the national average price at the pump could fall past $2 per gallon to $1.50 by mid-December. About 46 million drivers could hit the road for trips averaging 50 miles ( or more) this holiday season.
  • Plan your trip to avoid the crowded roads. Leaving in the “O’-dark-thirty” hours of morning helps you get a jump on getting to your destination when fewer people are on the road. Plan your travel times to get you through heavy traffic in metropolitan areas during non-rush hour times. Leaving earlier can make your trip safer.

Do you frequently engage in holiday travel? Tell us how you protect your home below, because the world needs your expert advice!


Vernon Trollinger is a writer with a background in home improvement, electronics, fiction writing, and archaeology. He now writes about green energy technology, home energy efficiency, the natural gas industry, and the electrical grid.

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