Planning a vacation to get you through the winter doldrums? Whether you’re off to a snowy ski vacation in the mountains or a week on a tropical island beach, it’s a great time to disconnect and reinvigorate.
If you’ll be taking a winter vacation, there are a few things you can do to prepare your HVAC system for your absence. Some simple steps now can give you peace of mind knowing your home will fare just fine without you, come rain, snow or blustery winter wind.
Most of these tips are so simple you’d feel embarrassed if you skipped them! And you can do most of them even if you just zipped up the suitcase and are about to walk out the door. Got a little more time on your hands? We’ve got a couple of things you can think about, too!
Turn The Thermostat Down – Not Off!
Why spend money heating an empty home? Even your house plants can probably survive a few chilly days, so lower the thermostat to save on energy costs and keep your furnace from working so hard in your absence.
But whatever you do, don’t simply turn the system off. That can actually cause some headaches you won’t want to deal with on your return. For starters, the lack of circulation can cause dust and other pollutants to build up, compromising the air quality in your home. Worse, it can result in moisture buildup and even mold in ducts as a result of condensation if it’s raining or humid.
Temperatures that are too low can cause any number of electrical or plumbing issues, so skip the temptation to turn it off, and simply lower it instead. Anywhere from 50 to 60 degrees will work. Stick to the higher side if you expect high humidity or if you have pipes that run in exterior walls.
Lower The Temperature On The Water Heater
While you’re lowering the house temperature, don’t forget to lower the temperature on your hot water heater. You don’t need to keep a full tank of water steaming hot if nobody will be using it for a week or two.
Some hot water heaters have a “vacation” mode. If yours does, use it! If not, simply lowering the temperature is enough to keep from racking up unnecessary heating bills. The same rule of thumb can work for heaters as for thermostats – aim for about 50 degrees, but don’t turn it off completely. It can actually cost more to reheat icy cold water than to keep it warm while you’re gone. And turning it off risks freezing and burst pipes – not something you want to return to after a relaxing vacation!
Grab A Dust Cloth
Give the housekeeper the day off, but don’t leave dust behind! It may seem odd to clean your home when nobody will be there, but there’s a good reason for it.
Dust and other airborne pollutants can accumulate while you’re away, especially if the HVAC doesn’t kick on. That means your welcome home might be a stuffy nose, increased allergies, even a cold.
You can reduce the accumulation by doing some light housekeeping before you leave. Dust surfaces, vacuum carpets, and even change the bed sheets. You’ll come home to a clean house, and a healthier one, too. Plus, it’ll put a little less stress on your HVAC system so it doesn’t have to work so hard while you’re away.
Change The Filters
Clean filters are your first line of defense against dust, odors and airborne pollutants. Assuming you’ve planned ahead just a little, there’s still time to get out and purchase new, clean HVAC filters.
Not only will they help keep air clean and fresh but they’ll also allow your furnace to work at its most efficient. A little housekeeping along with clean filters means you can come home to better air, fewer musty odors and less chance of sniffling and sneezing on your return.
Go For A WiFi Thermostat
You’ll have to plan ahead a little further for this one, but it’s still a pretty simple upgrade. Even if you have a programmable thermostat, you might start to wonder how you ever survived without this smart technology.
One of the great things about a smart thermostat is that you can adjust the temperature of your home whether you’re at the neighbor’s house or half the globe away. If you’ve ever raced out of the house to catch a plane and forgotten to change the temperature, this thermostat can be a real wallet-saver. As long as you have an internet connection, you can raise or lower the temperature from wherever you are.
That can also be tremendously beneficial if you want to make timely changes based on unexpected weather. Raise the temperature a bit if you’re expecting a bad cold snap or a big rain. Lower it if it’s a bit warmer outside.
And always come home to just the right temperature. You can either adjust it when you’re almost there, or let the geofencing feature do it for you. That way you can always be sure your home is kept at the optimal temperature for money savings, efficiency, comfort – and even the unexpected.
If you’re interested in learning more about HVAC upgrades like smart thermostats, air purification, or just a more energy-efficient unit, contact us for a free estimate. We’ll visit your home, answer your questions, and make recommendations that will keep you comfortable all winter long.