ading off on a well-deserved break? The last things you want to be worrying are whether you forgot to set the burglar alarm, turn off the water, or will be returning home to a catastrophe zone.
Follow our guide to switching off appliances and make sure you’re able to properly “switch off”, and aren’t coming back to any nasty surprises…
DO switch off
Water leaks are the most common domestic disaster holidaymakers return home to. They’ll cause considerable damage and expense if left unattended, so remember to turn off your water supply at the mains.
The stopcock is usually located in the cupboard under the kitchen sink or where the service pipe comes into your home. A leak from a water tank or pipe could also damage the electrical wiring and even start a fire, so this is simply a must-do.
Heating (except in winter!)
Don’t forget to switch off your boiler as there’s little point getting your central heating and hot water to come on when you’re not home. However, if you’re jetting off during the deep winter months, it’s important to protect your pipes from freezing and bursting.
Many modern boilers have a ‘frost mode’ that kicks in when the temperature drops below a certain level. Alternatively, you can program the heating to come on for an hour or so each day. It may be worthwhile setting it for early morning when outside temperatures are at their lowest.
TVs and computers
TVs, stereos, computers and even routers continue to drain power if they’re left on standby. So in between packing, try to spend a few minutes unplugging your appliances at the wall before you head off.
Kitchen appliances and gadgets
Kettles, coffee makers, toasters, microwaves, dishwashers, and washing machines should all be switched off and unplugged to save electricity and protect your home from fire risk.
DON’T switch off
Fridge and freezer
While you can switch off most appliances, you can’t usually turn off the electricity completely as you still need the freezer and fridge to run unless you’re going away for an especially long time.
If you switch off a fridge or freezer, it will defrost and you’ll return to a very wet floor. The stench of rotting food isn’t pleasant to come back to either.
You’ll need electricity to make your house look lived in while you’re on holiday, so as not to attract the attention of burglars. Use an automatic timer to turn lights on and off in the evenings at pre-programmed times. This gives the impression of someone being at home to ward off potential intruders.
Make sure any security systems you have in place are working properly. Remember to set the burglar alarm before you leave home and check that the outside security lighting and movement sensors come on to dissuade any burglars from entering your property while it’s empty.
TV set-top box
Don’t want to miss an episode of your favourite TV show (The Great British Bake Off?). Some satellite and digital TV recorders need to be left plugged in so they can record your favourite shows while you’re away (just make sure you set them to record!).
Use a separate socket so that all other appliances connected to it, such as your TV, DVD player or games console, can be independently unplugged.