As summer vacations are upon us it’s important to make sure you prepare your home for before you are leaving for vacation. They help ensure that you come home to find your place just as I left it.

1. Turn off your main water supply

Leaks happen. And they can happen while you’re away. Since nothing ruins the glow of a good vacation like returning to a flooded home, turn off your main water supply if you’re going to be gone for a week or more. (Heck, turn it off even if you’ll only be gone for a few days.)

If you forget and a leak does happen, your homeowners or renters insurance should cover that type of water damage.

2. Unplug all electronics

Yep, even if they’re not on, your electronics are energy vampires. Unplug your TV, microwave, toaster oven — anything that needs to be juiced — to save on your electricity bill.

As a plus, you’ll also help prevent an electrical fire.

3. Invest in a timer

Nothing screams “Come rob me!” like a house or apartment with its lights continually off.

Deter would-be burglars by putting timers on lights in different rooms. Set them to go on and off at various times throughout the night and no one will know you’re not actually there.

4. Stop mail service

Why let everyone (including prowlers) know that you’re not home?

If you don’t have a friend or friendly neighbour willing to pick up your mail, ask the USPS to hold it. They’ll keep all of your correspondences safe until you return, and the service is free.

5. Adjust your thermostat

If you live in a place where AC is a must during the summer months, adjust the thermostat a bit to save on your electricity bill. A good rule of thumb is to keep it a few degrees higher than normal. (So if you usually keep it at 70, change it to 75.)

By not turning off the AC completely, you’ll keep enough air circulating to control humidity and mold.

6. Pour baking soda down your drains and toilet

Baking soda is amazingly useful. And, when you combine it with vinegar, it freshens your drain (and helps clear clogs too). Pour about a cup down your drain and toilet to avoid playing “What’s that smell?” when you get home.

7. Clean your home

I know, I know. But your post-vacation self with thank you for taking care of the nitty-gritty.

At the very least, wipe down the surfaces, take out the garbage, and vacuum to prevent a critter invasion. And, if you want to be extra nice to Future You, put fresh sheets on your bed.

8. Check up on your insurance

You knew this one was coming. Honestly, though, knowing what your insurance policies (car, home, renters) cover could save you both time and money if something does happen while you’re away

Did you know the stuff you take with you on vacation is covered by your homeowners or renters policy.

Bon voyage

Once you’ve checked these items off your list, you can rest easy knowing that you’ve done your part to keep your home safe and sound.

GOOD HABITS TO HAVE A GREAT AND SAFE BBQ SEASON

  • Never keep your propane gas tanks inside nor store them near to a source of heat (charcoal barbecues may not present a risk of explosion, but they may cause a fire or carbon monoxide intoxication).
  • Keep the cover open to avoid gas accumulation when you light the barbecue.
  • Always turn off the gas as soon as you’re done the cooking, and stay away from the tank if you smell gas.
  • Never cook with a rusted or damaged tank. In Canada, tanks must be changed or inspected every 10 years.
  • If you suspect a gas leak, fill a bottle with a vaporizer spout with a little bit of dish soap, and vaporize on the connections when the gas is on; if you see bubbles, it means there’s a leak.
  • Be careful when transporting the tank from the store to your home, and when riding in the car, place it on the floor of the car, with valves upward and open windows, instead of in the trunk.
  • Always be careful when using starting fluids or accelerants, wait a minute before lighting the barbecue, and make sure to store the bottles away from the barbecue.

You may find your electricity bill going up during the winter months.

Increased heating and other winter energy habits (such as using more lighting for longer hours), can make the average winter electricity bill 66% higher than the rest of the year.

There are some steps you can take to heat your home more efficiently and help you avoid high winter bills.

See BC Hydro’s tips for:

Baseboard heating

If your home has baseboard heaters you’re likely already aware that they can be costly to run. In fact, they can account for up to 50% of your home’s overall electricity use. Thankfully with a few simple tips – like turning them off in rooms you’re not using, keeping them at an ideal temperature, and ensuring they’re kept clean, can help keep your costs down.

Watch the video below to get more tips for using your baseboard heaters efficiently and read BC Hydro’s piece 10 things you may not know about electric baseboard heaters.

Setting your thermostat

In winter, heating costs can go up by as much as 140% compared to the rest of the year. One of the most effective things you can do to control your heating costs is to manage your thermostat effectively.

A programmable thermostat is a small investment that can help you manage your heating costs by reducing wasted heat. Simply set it to turn on at the times you’re home and turn down when you’re out during the day, and at night when you’re sleeping.

  • Setting your thermostat at the right temperature is important. Heating costs rise about 5% for every degree above 20°C (68°F) that you set your thermostat.
    • 16°C when you’re away from home and sleeping.
    • 21°C when you’re relaxing or watching TV.
    • 18°C when you’re cooking or doing housework.
  • Set it and forget it. Set your thermostat to adjust at certain times of the day, like when you’re asleep or at work. Have your thermostat warm up right before you usually get home in the evening.
  • Manage settings on the go. If you make spontaneous evening plans and have a WiFi-enabled smart thermostat, adjust it right from your smartphone so your home doesn’t get warmed up for your arrival.
  • Do you have baseboard heating or rely on portable space heaters? They can be inefficient, especially for large spaces. Make sure you’re using yours as efficiently as possible.
  • ‘Smart’ thermostat “learn your routine.” Thermostats like the Nest will learn your daily routine and automatically adjust the temperature for you.

Draftproofing your home

A drafty home is an inefficiently-heated home. If your home is losing warm air to the outside and letting cold air gust in, you’re wasting heat. Sealing gaps and cracks can help, reducing heat loss by up to 10%. Plus, it’s a simple job that only involves a little bit of work.

Here are some simple how-to videos:

Looking for other do-it-yourself projects to improve your home’s efficiency? See our other videos.

It’s also important to use window coverings effectively to minimize heat loss during the winter.

Using a space heater

Most portable space heaters use a lot of electricity so if the room you’re trying to heat is large, or you have multiple heaters in multiple rooms, they can quickly rack up your bill.

Using our online cost calculator, you’ll see that a 1,400-watt space heater used an average of four hours a day will cost you about $17 a month to operate.

To make the most of a portable heater, follow these tips:

  • Use it in a small or enclosed space.
  • Place it the corner of the room.
  • Keep doors to the room shut to keep the heat in.
  • Turn it off when you leave the room.

No matter what kind of space heater you’re using, it’s important to keep safety top of mind. Ensure it won’t tip over, use it on a level floor, keep blankets and fabric away, and never go to sleep with the heater on.

Use MyHydro to manage your electricity use and save.

Managing your heating habits is even easier thanks to energy tracking tools available in MyHydro.

You can see how much electricity you’re using, down to the hour, which can help pinpoint when you’re using the most electricity, and you can adjust your usage to find savings.

One family did just that, and their electricity costs dropped by 41% in a month.

Find out more about the energy tracking tools available in MyHydro.

 

Content curated from bchydro.com

Our friends at Kennedy Landscaping Ltd. gave us tips on maintaining and transitioning your garden from Winter to Spring and Summer:

Flowers and plants require neutral soils to perform their best. The extreme wet Winter and Spring we have had may have caused your soil to become too acidic, preventing plants from getting the nutrients they need, and in some cases, affected by toxic materials such as aluminium. This can be corrected with the addition of lime to help balance the pH levels, which plays a vital part in the chemistry of the plants further ensuring healthy lawns and gardens. As a rule, an effective pH level for a flower garden is from 6.0 to 6.5. A soil test will help determine if you need lime to offset acidity levels thus providing your home to flourish with the garden haven you deserve.