Winterizing your home: essential prep before leaving for the winter

From visiting stunning ski resorts and ice hotels to relaxing in your second home in the sun, winter is an amazing time to take a break. However, the weather also makes it a challenging time to leave your property vacant. That’s why it’s worth taking the time to make a checklist and winterize your house effectively, so you come home to a property in perfect condition.

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Check your insurance policy

Some home insurance policies will not cover you if you leave your home unoccupied for a long period of time. The exact length of absence you’re allowed will vary by region and policy provider. Therefore, it pays to check what your policy allows. It might even make sense – if necessary – to purchase separate unoccupied home insurance, just in case.

Protect your plumbing

Even with the right insurance, there are some problems you don’t want to face. Burst pipes sits squarely in that category. Make sure to leave your heating on a timer to ensure your property never gets too close to freezing temperatures. Turn off the water to your property, including outside areas with sprinkler systems, and drain pipes that are most at risk of freezing.

Unplug appliances

It’s not just pipes that can freeze in your absence – if you winterize your house properly, your bills can freeze too. Switch off and unplug any electronics that won’t be used to avoid unnecessary charges. This will also help protect electricals in the event of water ingress. Take the opportunity to redirect calls made to your home phone so that they reach your mobile, and contact your cable or satellite TV provider to see if your subscription can be paused for long absences.

Deter intruders

To protect your house while you’re away, it’s wise to make the property look lived in. Use timers to activate lights in the evenings and, if you usually park in your drive, ask friends or neighbours if they’ll park there now and then. Remember to avoid oversharing on social media too, as it may alert thieves to your absence.

Deter furry visitors

Winterizing your home also requires action to keep other intruders out. If you have a working fireplace, you may need to consider installing gauze over the chimney to keep out nesting birds and small mammals. Similarly, lock any cat flaps and other small entrance passages to avoid mice getting in.

Consider house-sitters

For pets, plants and more complex homes to maintain, house-sitters may be the answer. You don’t just have to turn to neighbours or paid house-sitters, though: you might also consider renting out your property as a vacation home. This eliminates the need for winterizing your home almost completely, and could be a nice boost for luxury vacation spending too.

Seek smart solutions

Winterizing your home is much easier with the right smart home technology. New home security systems let you install cameras in your house and check on your property remotely on your phone, laptop or tablet. Some even allow you to engage with visitors at the door by connecting your device with the entry phone, so callers won’t even know you’re away.

Once you’re done winterizing your home, it’s time to relax into some holiday planning.

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