Here come the holidays, a time of year that means travelling for many people. Whether it’s a short trip or an extended stay, take a few minutes to make sure your home is ready before you head out.
Here are a few tips to get you started:
- Hot water tank. Turn off the water going into your hot water tank. That way if a leak develops while you are away it will be limited to what is in your tank. For a longer trip, turning off the hot water tank completely will save energy.
- Forced air heat. Most people know they can save energy by turning the thermostat down when they will be away. But many furnace manufacturers recommend setting it at 60 degrees minimum so that the furnace is not damaged. This information is likely in your furnace’s operating manual if you still have it handy. If you are unsure, check with your heating contractor to verify the lowest setting for your system.
- Water pipes. If the temperature will be below freezing while you are away, the big risk is that pipes could freeze if your furnace goes out. Ask a neighbor, friend or family member to check on the house every day or two depending upon the severity of the weather. Another option is to install a temperature alarm. Products like the Honeywell Winter Watchman (available at home improvement stores or through your HVAC contractor) cause a lamp to light if the temperature in the home falls below a certain temperature. This makes it easy for a neighbor to see that the heat has gone out in your home.
- For those with a home security system, often you can install an option that will alert your security company if the temperature goes out of range. There are many stand-alone options from internet enabled thermostats that call or email in case of a problem to electronic devices that can alert you to temperature or plumbing problems. Finally, make sure you have a clean filter in the furnace before you leave.
- Water/steam heat—Boilers need to be checked even more often than furnaces. If a neighbor is not available to check the water level in the boiler a few times per week, you might consider adding an automatic water feeder to maintain the proper water level in your steam boiler. Here again, a temperature alarm or wireless monitoring through an alarm service can notify someone of a problem before damage occurs.
If you plan to be gone for extended period of time, you may consider winterizing your home more completely. It is best to discuss this approach with you plumber or HVAC contractor first—experience is really important here to make sure that the job is done properly. Taking a little time to consider your HVAC system before your trip can keep you from returning home to an unpleasant surprise.
Photo credit: dgflyer
Picture Credit: Beige Alert