As winter arrives in North Dakota, warm, sunny beaches start to call our names! Are you heading out on a winter vacation? More than likely you have had the mail held and asked a neighbor to keep an eye on things while you are away, but did you remember to ready your electricity and HVAC system for your absence? It is important for not only cost savings, but also safety reasons.
Below are six tips to remember when the packing is done and you are almost ready to set sail in paradise.
Reset the thermostat on your HVAC system to 60 degrees. This will save you money without risking frozen pipes and flooding, while still preventing moisture from building up on your primary heat exchanger, which could cause a possible shortage as well as mildew problems. Temperatures below freezing make it unsafe to turn the thermostat entirely off, and in our area we have the humidity working against us. We also tend to turn the heat back up to 72 or higher upon our return, causing extra stress to the HVAC unit. A programmable thermostat makes it convenient to remotely check on the temperature in your house and slowly increase the heat back to a comfortable setting over a couple of days, helping to prevent overworking your HVAC unit.
This lower temperature will prevent water in the lines and tank from freezing and causing damage, but won’t keep hot water on hand that you are not going to be using. If you are not quite sure how to change the water heater to its “vacation” setting, give us a call!
Turn off the water supply to washing machines and toilets; this can help avoid an unexpected leak while you’re away. Double-check the insulation around water pipes that are close to unheated areas and add insulation if needed, as an added precaution to prevent a frozen pipe while you’re away.
Be sure all interior doors are open. This will keep the heat circulating throughout the entire house and create less of a chance for cold spots where a pipe could freeze or a plant might die from inadequate warmth. If you have someone checking your home, it is a good idea to place a thermometer where it can easily be seen to notify the person of any dangerous temperature drops in your home.
Set your refrigerator to 42 degrees and freezer to 5 degrees, to save money while also reducing the odds of returning home to spoiled food. If you are heading off on an extended vacation, donate or discard perishable food items and unplug your fridge to save even more. Also, unplug any “vampire appliances” that continue to use energy even when they are not in use, such as televisions, lamps, entertainment systems and coffee makers.
If you don’t have motion detectors, it is a good idea to consider investing in them, especially when going on extended vacations. If you do, make sure all the lights are in working order and time them to come on in the evening as the sun sets. You could even set a radio on a timer to ward off possible burglars.
We hope these tips help you have a wonderful, stress-free vacation! If you would like additional information on the care and maintenance of your HVAC system, or help with prepping your system for an extended vacation, or to schedule services to make sure your system is running optimally, contact Vilandres and we would be happy to come give your unit a tune-up before your trip begins.