Should You Turn Your HVAC System off Before Going on Vacation?

Like many homeowners in De Pere, Wisconsin, you’re probably paying a veritable fortune to heat your home. Throughout the nation, indoor heating accounts for approximately 50 percent of the average home energy bill. Running your cooling equipment in the summer isn’t much cheaper. Thus, when you head out for vacation, you may be tempted to turn your HVAC system off. After all, no one will be present to enjoy the warmth and comfort it provides, and you’ve got an easy opportunity to cut your heating costs. Unfortunately, a total system shutdown could prove more expensive than you think. Read on to find out why.

Your Pipes Will Freeze

During winter, daytime temperatures in De Pere rarely rise above 37 degrees Fahrenheit. Unless you’re willing to go through the tedious process of shutting your water off and completely clearing your pipes, a cold, empty home could result in frozen and ruptured piping and major indoor flooding. While you’re on vacation, your heating system will be all that stands between your pipes and absolute disaster. Keeping the building interior sufficiently warm is the surest method of prevention. In fact, not only should you keep your heat running, but you should also open up all cabinet doors that lead to under-sink plumbing. This way, heated air can travel into these spaces too.

Your Electrical System Could Suffer Too

Excessively cold temperatures aren’t just bad for residential plumbing. They can also wreak havoc on the electrical circuits throughout your home. Cables and wiring can become brittle and more susceptible to damage, and lubricants can harden.

Your Belongings Rely on Your HVAC System

While people recognize their HVAC systems as being essential for their safety and comfort, it’s important to acknowledge the protections that they provide for many household items. Modern homes are filled with devices, appliances, and gadgets that benefit from heating and cooling equipment too. If you plan a summer vacation and leave your home without air conditioning, you’ll likely be doing so at the sacrifice of your computers, laptops, tablets, and gaming systems. Nearly every computer lab and server room throughout the world has climate control equipment, and with good reason. Costly hardware is both humidity and temperature sensitive.

In winter, keeping your heat on may be necessary for protecting your personal devices from condensation. Cold temperatures can permanently damage electronic devices in an empty De Pere home. The high costs of replacing your electronics are hardly worth the risk. This is especially true if you have a smart home with numerous connected systems. Consistently maintaining both a reasonable indoor temperature and balanced indoor humidity is best. The surest way to do this is by using your HVAC system even while you’re away.

Set a Modest Temperature at the Thermostat

The good news is that going on vacation is still an excellent time to save money on your home heating and cooling costs. After all, your system won’t be working to meet the constantly changing demands of human residents. Moreover, no one will be opening and closing doors or letting cold, outdoor air in. When you’re at home, you can save money by keeping your thermostat set at 67 to 68 degrees. If this is too chilly for some residents, encourage them to layer their clothing. When you go on vacation, drop your normal thermostat setting by as much as 10 degrees. All things considered, your heater will cycle on far less often, and its heating cycles will be far shorter.

Things to Do Before Leaving

Before traveling, make sure that your HVAC system is in good working order. You obviously don’t want to leave your heating system running unattended if it’s nearing the end of its life span or is poised to malfunction. Schedule an annual HVAC maintenance service so that an HVAC technician can catch and resolve developing problems right away. Make sure that your HVAC system has fresh air filters and check to ensure that none of its vents or registers are blocked. Give each HVAC air vent in your home at least two feet of clearance.

Another thing to consider is whether your thermostat is in an ideal location. If your thermostat is too near any fixed heat source, it may register your home as being much warmer than it really is. For instance, a nearby air vent could cause your thermostat to signal for the end of heating cycles before remote areas ever heat up. This can be especially problematic if you have a bathroom at the end of the hall or on a second floor that doesn’t get adequate heat. With an ill-placed thermostat, the pipes in this space might freeze even though your HVAC system is never turned off. You can ask one of our technicians to check your thermostat location during your next service visit. If it needs to be relocated, we’ll take care of it.

Consider Having a Smart Thermostat Installed

Programmable thermostats and smart thermostats aren’t one and the same. Although both device types are popular in modern homes and both options can help limit energy waste, smart thermostats have a far greater range of capabilities. They can be especially helpful when leaving your HVAC system on while you go out of town.

While a programmable thermostat can be set to adjust heater or air conditioner operations according to your preferences and schedule, smart thermostats can send information about your HVAC system’s performance and activities to any location. You can check in on your HVAC equipment remotely to make sure that it is working as it should. Many high-end smart thermostats allow for geofencing, scheduled alerts, and the generation of real-time energy reports. With one of these devices installed, you can find out about HVAC issues before your pipes actually freeze. The level of connectivity that truly advanced thermostats provide will give you peace of mind.

Returning Home

You don’t want to return home and find a living environment that’s well below freezing. This is a definite possibility if you turn your heater off at the start of a winter vacation and return while winter is still raging. Even without plumbing and electrical damage, this is guaranteed to be a challenge. Your heating system will have to do quite a bit of work to return your indoor temperature to normal, and you and the rest of your household will have to wait for quite a while. With your thermostat set just 10 degrees lower than it normally is, your home will feel warm and inviting the minute you walk in. Best of all, if you have a Wi-Fi-enabled smart thermostat, you can even heat things up for your arrival while you’re still several miles away.

At Healthy Home Heating & Cooling LLC, we’ve been serving residents of Appleton and De Pere, Wisconsin since 2005. We offer heater and air conditioner maintenance, installation, and repairs. Our clients can also turn to us for duct cleaning and indoor air quality services. If you’ve got questions about your home’s heating system, we can help. Get in touch with Healthy Home Heating & Cooling LLC now!

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