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Prepping your home for a winter break

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While many people enjoy having the family round for Christmas and New Year’s Eve, others prefer to avoid all the hassle and head away to a warmer climate for the festive break.

While a winter holiday can certainly be the perfect tonic to combat the cold weather, there are many more things to consider at this time of year that may not cross your mind if you are heading away during the traditional summer period.

Keep your home safe and secure while you are on holiday with these tips and tricks to prepare your home.

Set the heating controls

As winter truly kicks in and the temperature outside begins to plummet, it can cause havoc with pipes, as many homeowners have discovered to their cost over the years,

While modern central heating and piping technology means this is a far less frequent occurrence, particularly in newer homes, it is advisable to set a minimum temperature on your heating controls.

By ensuring the temperature in the house does not fall below 50 degrees Fahrenheit, you can prevent pipes from freezing and also ensure your boiler is ticking over while the family is away.

For those with remote control heating, this can be done from a smartphone app on a sun lounger thousands of miles away, ensuring you can return to a warm house, regardless of when you come back from holiday.

Clear away blockages

After autumn covers pathways, drives, gardens and houses in leaves, blockages can be a common occurrence and cause major problems if not addressed.

The two main culprits are gutters and drains, so aim to clear both of these out before you head away, if necessary.

While clearing drains is a messy yet simple job, cleaning out gutters can be dangerous, so exhibit caution if doing it yourself; often, window cleaners will offer to clean guttering for a small fee, or even for free if you are on good terms!

Automatic lighting

Leaving your house in darkness 24/7 is a sure-fire sign that you are away on holiday, so consider investing in some plug timers for your lamps that can turn the lights on at various times during the evening and give the impression that someone is home.

Another tactic is to ask a family member or neighbour to ‘pull the curtains on’ each evening to add a little privacy to your home throughout the night.

Cancel your deliveries

If you regularly have milk, newspapers, magazines or other items delivered to your home, remember to tell the appropriate suppliers that you are going away.

The same goes for the window cleaner – if payment is likely to be delayed then try let them know in advance, particularly if they have helped to clear your guttering!

Remember your pets

The vast majority of people will not take their pet on holiday if they are travelling outside the country, and while there is generally a family member happy to look after your dog, for other animals it can be tricky.

If you have an outdoor cat, you will likely need to arrange for a neighbour to visit your house to either top up their food or let them in on an evening, if you do not have a catflap.

For smaller animals like rabbits, hamsters and guinea pigs, the same methodology will apply regardless of whether they are indoor or outdoor animals, although they may also need some affection if they are used to having it on a daily basis.

Perhaps the easiest option is to have fish as pets – simply adding a slow-release food block to the tank before you go away can keep them fed for the duration of your holiday and provide peace of mind that your aquatic friends are in safe hands.

Empty the fridge and cupboards

In the run-up to the festive period it is not unusual to accumulate more food than you would normally have, which can leave your fridge and cupboards full to bursting.

However, this same food can go off within days in some cases, so take the time to empty the fridge and cupboards before heading away.

The night before you depart, try create a recipe using all of the leftover food you have - this blog from Elly McCausland has some great ideas on how to use it up.