Whether you are going out of town or your home is Holiday Central, these tips will get your home ready for the holidays!
1. Unplug unused electronics - Most televisions, DVRs, media players, and other household electronics don't turn completely "off" when you push the power button. (That's why electronics manufacturers call the pseudo-off mode "standby.") We are an impatient lot, so our electronics are made so they are always a little bit on, using a little bit of electricity, so our favorite entertainment systems start quickly. If you unplug electronics you use infrequently, or when you are away for home for several days, you will prevent damage from unexpected power surges and save money on your electric bill! (As an added bonus, prying eyes of friends and family will be slowed down from peeking at your personal photos or emails.)
2. Hold your mail and daily newspaper - Keep strangers from knowing you're out of town by an overflowing mail or paper box. The US Postal Service now has online hold mail service. It is not available for all addresses, but postal stations also have forms you can fill out in-person.
3. Set lights and radios on timers - Give the impression someone is home by having lights and sound come on at various intervals.
4. Back up your vital electronic documents and photos - Make a DVD-R or CD-ROM backup of your important files and photos in case of fire, theft, or hardware failure. Store these discs (or your favorite storage media) in a media storage-approved fire safe or off-site. Alternatively, if the files are not sensitive or very private, you can store backups "in the cloud," using an online storage website.
5. Review your insurance coverage - Have you recently purchased, inherited, or received a valuable item, such as electronics, jewelry, furs, or art? These items may not be covered under a regular homeowners or renters home insurance policy. Check with your insurance agent and see if you need to add more coverage.