You’ve saved up your PTO, and now your family is planning to go on an extended vacation. You’ve asked a neighbor to watch your home, you’ve halted your newspaper delivery, and you’ve notified your home security company.
Now, you wonder what you should do about your appliances, such as your furnace, air conditioning system, or water heater. Save money and protect your home from damage by following these steps.
Preparing your plumbing could help you avoid costly situations. For example, what if the water valve to your washing machine bursts while you’re away? Without anyone around to notice the problem, it could flood your home and lead to thousands of dollars in damage.
To prevent plumbing disasters, turn off the main water valve for your home. The main valve should be located near your water meter. If it’s the first time you’ve shut off your main valve, make sure you got it right by testing a faucet after you shut the valve.
If you’re leaving home for an extended holiday trip, you can save money on utility bills if you turn down your thermostat before you leave. But don’t turn it down too low, or your pipes could freeze while you’re away. Instead, set the thermostat to about 55 degrees Fahrenheit.
If you’re going to be gone for more than a few weeks, have a neighbor check your furnace at some point.
On summer vacations, feel free to turn your thermostat to about 83 degrees to lower your utility bills. Don’t shut off your central air conditioning; otherwise, humidity will increase, causing mold and other problems.
If you have a window air conditioner, you should turn it off before you leave. The unit will use a lot of electricity while you’re gone and increase your utility bills for no reason. It also presents a safety hazard. It could experience an electrical problem and start a fire, or a burglar could enter through your window.
Remove the unit from your window if you can. If not, unplug it and cover it.
You can also give your water heater a break while you’re gone. If you have an electric water heater, turn off its breaker on the service panel. If you have a gas water heater, adjust the dial to vacation mode. If your water heater doesn’t have vacation mode, turn the water heater to a low temperature. Do not turn it off, or you’ll have to call an HVAC technician to relight the pilot light.
After you take care of your larger appliances, unplug other appliances as well. This way, you can avoid electrical problems and potential fires. Unplug devices like:
- Alarm clocks
- Electric toothbrushes
You could also save on utility bills if you unplug your refrigerator and freezer while you’re gone. But you’ll have to eat or throw away all your food in that case. If you’d prefer to keep your fridge and freezer on, set the thermostat a couple of degrees higher. Just don’t raise the refrigerator temperature above 38 degrees or the freezer above 5 degrees, or else the food will spoil.
Of course, turning out your lights before you leave can help you save on utility bills. But make sure you leave at least one light on so potential thieves can’t tell you’re out of town. Also, install a motion-activated sensor to deter intruders.
Follow these tips to save money and hassle and enjoy a worry-free vacation. If you have additional questions about your appliances or need a repair, call a plumber or HVAC technician.