When you're getting ready to go on vacation, your furnace and water heater
are probably the last things on your mind.
But if you don't give your appliances a vacation too, you'll probably return
home wondering why an empty house doesn't mean lower energy bills. In
addition, oftentimes, I get calls from folks who had a wonderful vacation, but
completely forget about that when they come home to a house that "sprung a
leak" while they were gone.
Furnace and air conditioner
If you'll be taking a winter vacation, set the thermostat at 55 degrees - but
don't go any lower. This will help prevent your water pipes from freezing
If you'll be away for several weeks, ask a neighbor to check your house
once in a while to make sure the furnace is still running.
Or you can use a device called a “winter watchman” - plug it into an
outlet, then plug a lamp into it. The device is temperature sensitive, so if
the room temperature drops below the setpoint, the lamp will come on to
alert your neighbor. You can find one of these at your local home center
or hardware store.
During the summer, turn the thermostat off. If you have a window air
conditioner, it's best to remove it; if it's difficult to remove, cover the
compressor and unplug the unit.
Many homeowners wonder about how to adjust their water heater while
they're away. If you have a gas water heater, set the temperature dial to
the VAC or "vacation" setting.
If you don't have this setting, turn the thermostat as low as it will go - but
don't turn it completely off. If you do, you'll have to relight the pilot light
when you get home, and with most water heaters this requires a service
call from a professional.
If you have an electric water heater, cut the power at the breaker or fuse
in the service panel.
With either type of water heater, It's not necessary to drain out the water
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Refrigerator. If you'll be gone for several weeks, empty out the food
and unplug it. If that's not practical, get rid of easily spoiled items like
milk and yogurt, and turn up the thermostat a notch or two.
You can raise the internal temperature up to 38 degrees and still keep
your food safe.
he same advice applies to the freezer. Remove fast-melting foods like
ice cream, and raise the temperature a few degrees. Meats and
vegetables will remain solidly frozen if the freezer temperature is five or
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Before you head out the door, take a few minutes to turn off and
unplug any appliance or electronic device that doesn't need to stay on.
power even when they're not being used.
Unplugging appliances will also help prevent damage in case of a
storm or power surge. Don't forget to unplug bigger items like your
washer and dryer. Turn off the water supplies to the toilets and give it
one final flush. Always turn the water supplies off to the washing
machine, regardless of how old they are. If it's wintertime, open the
cabinets in the house where plumbing is present. This will help to
keep any pipes from freezing. Also, make certain that your outside
hoses are disconnected from the valve and place a protector over it.
Safety and security
sure to give your house that lived-in look while you're away.
It's always a good idea to have a motion detector light outdoors, and
while you're on vacation, use a timer on an indoor light. Look for a and
off at exactly the same times every day.
If you'll be gone more than a few days, hire someone to mow the lawn
or shovel the walk. And no matter how short your vacation, have a
neighbor collect your mail and newspapers.