Come Back to a Safe Home
Travel can be simultaneously exciting and daunting. Are you hopping on a plane to fly to a tropical island paradise? While there are an infinite number of possibilities when it comes to your destination, there is no place like home, so it’s wise to think about home security before you walk out the door.
With over 1.7 billion leisure-travel trips1 taken in 2014, travelers are leaving empty homes behind very frequently. Saying goodbye to your home can bring about some unwanted consequences if you don’t take the proper precautions. Burglars? Break-ins? Burst pipes? There’s a lot that can go wrong.
The last thing you want to worry about while you are away is the wellbeing of your home. So what can you do to prevent these catastrophes from occurring? In this course, we examine some of the key steps you can take to ensure your home is protected while you travel.
How many leisure trips did Americans take in 2014?
You might find yourself packing bags for business trips as often as you travel for pleasure. Americans took 452 million business-related trips1 in 2014. When you travel for business, your worries about the security of your home can be even greater when family members are left behind. The following strategies for safeguarding your home are useful for both business and leisure travelers.
How many business trips are taken every year?
Buck the Burglary Trend
July and August are among the busiest travel months, and they are also the months in which most break-ins occur1. It can be very easy to get caught up in the whirlwind of vacation planning. Have you packed enough socks? Is the dog taken care of? Where in the world is that passport?! But long before you get to that rushing-out-the-door frenzy, take some time to think about household security, so that when you return your house will be the way you left it.
In what two months do most break-ins occur?
Time Wounds All Heels
On average, a burglar spends less than a minute trying to get into a property1 before either succeeding or moving on to the next target. This means securing the entry points to your home is paramount. While deadbolt locks are the best way to physically secure your doors, an even safer bet is installing a sophisticated home security system. Featuring impressive and innovative advancements in home automation, today’s home security is leading the charge against burglary.
While many burglars are put off by the signs of a security system, some still may be desperate enough to try to gain access to your house. Now, thanks to home automation coupled with security cameras, you can log on to your smart phone/computer and actually see who is rattling your door knob. Security cameras are easier to use and less expensive to obtain than ever before.
What is the average time a burglar will spend trying to break in to a property?
Don’t Be a Fresh Airhead
Did you know you have an increased chance of being burgled through an open window during the summer months? Leaving your windows open a crack to let in fresh air can let other things in too. Before you go out of town, make sure all your windows are securely locked.
True or False: Burglars are less likely to enter through the window during the summer months.
Let There Be Light
Many people completely turn off their lighting systems when they leave home in order to save on energy costs, but this could put you severely at risk. It isn’t necessary to leave every light blazing; home automation solutions can help you establish a middle ground between security and energy efficiency. You can now time when your lights turn on and off and even monitor them on your smart phone or computer while you’re away. This will deter burglars by making your home appear as though it’s occupied. You can also remotely activate televisions and radios to add extra authenticity.
Which of the following should you set on a timer to achieve the look of a lived-in home?
Marking Your Property
Worse case scenario: you come home and discover some of your expensive electronics have been stolen. In hindsight, what could you have done to increase your odds of recovering that flat screen TV? Engrave your driver’s license number on a discreet location on your most valuable items. That way, if a burglar takes your brand new laptop to the pawn shop you can identify yourself as the real owner.
True or False: Engraving your driver’s license number on your valuable electronics can protect you from theft.
Save Your Energy
We’ve covered solutions that can make your home seem occupied when you are away, but truly saving energy means pulling the plug on other items.
Millions of Americans pay unnecessary energy costs generated by standby power1. This is the power consumed by devices that are simply plugged in to an outlet. You can offset these costs by switching to Energy Star products, using a power strip with switches, or simply unplugging your products before you go out of town. It’s not enough to just put your electronics on sleep mode.
Which of these is NOT a way to offset standby power costs?
Get Smart with Your Thermostat
A smart thermostat will also help offset energy costs when you are away from your house. Being able to program the temperature based on when you are coming and going will make your bills cheaper and your home more comfortable on your return.
True or false: a smart thermostat can help save you money on energy costs
In the summer months, the ideal temperature to set when you’re away from home is 85 degrees1. This temperature is recommended because the AC will still kick in occasionally and remove humidity from the property.
What is the ideal temperature for your thermostat while you’re away during summer months?
Water It Down
Another often overlooked issue is forgetting to address your water supply before heading out of town. Shutting off your water supply will ensure that you don’t incur flooding from a burst pipe while you’re away. It will also reduce your water bills.
True or False: You should shut off your water supply before leaving town.
It’s also shrewd to keep all your blinds and curtains closed while you are away. Not only will this save energy, but it also will stop burglars from looking into your empty property.
True or False: You should keep your blinds and curtains closed while you are away.
Won’t You Be My Neighbor?
It's wise to maintain good relations with your neighbors for many reasons; having an ally next door can be particularly beneficial if you travel frequently. A neighbor can help you maintain the illusion of occupancy when you’ve been away for weeks. They can pick up your mail/packages, take out your trash and even maintain the health of your yard.
However, it’s important to make sure that your neighbor isn’t broadcasting comments about their house watching duties on social media. Many potential burglars may actually know you or your friends, so you have to maintain a united front. Neighbors can also notify you about energy usage and other property issues that might crop up while you are away.
Which of these is NOT a way a neighbor can help protect your property while you’re gone?
Home is Where the Automation Is
In additional to practical tips for securing your home when you travel, this curriculum has mentioned several different ways in which a home automation can provide extra help. Can you name them?
Which of the following ways can home automation help protect your home while you’re away?
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(Correct answers are green)
- How many leisure trips did Americans take in 2014?
- 500 million
- 952 million
- 1 billion
- 1.7 billion – This number means that many, many homes are left unoccupied on a yearly basis.
- How many business trips are taken every year?
- 350 million
- 382 million
- 400 million
- 452 million – Business travelers should follow the same methods as leisure travelers for securing their property.
- In what two months do most break-ins occur?
- December and June
- April and May
- July and August – This shouldn’t come as a surprise, as these are the most popular months for vacations
- October and November
- What is the average time a burglar will spend trying to break in to a property?
- Less than a minute – If burglars can't break into your home quickly, they are likely to move on to the next target. That’s why it’s vital to prevent easy entry.
- 2 minutes
- 5 minutes
- Ten minutes
- True or False: Burglars are less likely to enter through the window during the summer months.
- False – Because of the warm summer temperatures, many people will keep their windows open and shut off their AC. This leads to a higher risk of break-ins, so it’s important to keep those windows shut and locked when you are not around.
- Which of the following should you set on a timer to achieve the look of a lived-in home?
- All of the above – Having your lights, TV or radio on a timer can create the impression that you are home.
- True or False: Engraving your driver’s license number on your valuable electronics can protect you from theft.
- True – Having your information engraved on your valuables will make it much easier to retrieve them if they are stolen. This simple trick could end up saving you boatloads of money.
- Which of these is NOT a way to offset standby power costs?
- Close laptops and put electronics on sleep mode – If electronics are plugged in they are still drawing power. Utilizing Energy Star products and power strips will help offset your usage, but unplugging your products is still the best bet.
- Switch to Energy Star products
- Use a power strip with switches
- Unplug your products
- True or false: a smart thermostat can help save you money on energy costs
- True – Being able to program the temperature based on when you are coming and going will make your bills cheaper and your home more comfortable on your return.
- What is the ideal temperature for your thermostat while you’re away during summer months?
- 67 degrees
- 74 degrees
- 80 degrees
- 85 degrees – This temperature is recommended because the AC will still cycle occasionally to remove humidity.
- True or False: You should shut off your water supply before leaving town.
- True – This will eliminate the possibility of your trip being disturbed by plumbing issues.
- True or False: You should keep your blinds and curtains closed while you are away.
- True – This is key to keeping intruders at bay AND keeping your energy costs down while you’re away.
- Which of these is NOT a way a neighbor can help protect your property while you’re gone?
- Pick up mail/packages
- Take out trash on trash day
- Maintain yard health
- Discuss vacation habits on social media – Surprisingly, many burglars may actually know you. Make sure that you and your neighbors aren’t broadcasting your whereabouts.
- Which of the following ways can home automation help protect your home while you’re away?
- Break-in alerts being sent directly to your phone/computer
- Naturally timed lighting
- Real time video surveillance
- All of the above – Home automation has been the best deterrent for burglars in recent years. Most systems will be able to do all of these things to protect your home and more.