Is Your HVAC System Ready for Winter Vacation?

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You are all set for that much needed winter break! But is your HVAC system ready for your vacation? Wait, what? I need to take my HVAC system with me? No, but you do need to make sure it’s good to go while you are gone.

So as you’re creating lists of what to bring – don’t forget KEVIN! – here are a few more things to check. Being prepared will help make sure your heating and cooling systems don’t go on vacation while you are gone or when you get back.

After two challenging years of travel bans, restrictions, and lockdowns, more people are making big travel plans, both during the holiday season and for the winter of 2022-2023. Recent reports show 47% of survey respondents indicated they plan to travel over the holiday break. This is a significant bump from the roughly one-third of people traveling for the holidays in 2019.

According to AAA Travel, 112.7 million people will journey 50 miles or more away from home from December 23 to January 2, an increase of 3.6 million people compared to last year.

So before you hit the road, here are some tips for keeping your HVAC system rolling along as it should.

DON’T Turn the HVAC System Off!!!

It’s a popular misconception that you can save energy and wear and tear on your system if you turn off the furnace or boiler while you are away. Afterall, no one will be home to use it, right? Well, don’t touch that switch! Turning the system off over an extended period during the cold winter months can lead to frozen pipes.

Your plumbing is largely protected from freezing by warm indoor air. If you shut the furnace down and your pipes freeze, they could burst and even flood your home when the pipes thaw. Saving a few dollars on heating costs is not worth a plumbing disaster! In fact, insurance industry studies have found the amount of water damage caused by frozen water pipes ranks second, only behind hurricanes, in the number of homes damaged and the amount of insurance claim costs in the U.S. each year. This means that an average of over 250,000 homes per year will suffer damage from frozen and burst pipes.

Turn Down the Thermostat

Instead of turning the system off, simply turn down the thermostat There are many factors to consider when deciding what temperature to set your home on while you are away on vacation. Here are a few questions to evaluate before making your decision:

While we do not recommend shutting off your HVAC system when you are on vacation, we do suggest setting your thermostat to a lower temperature to save on your energy bill.

Whether you plan to leave for a short vacation or for the season, most HVAC professionals, like Levco, recommend setting the thermostat no lower than 55 degrees Fahrenheit. This temperature will reduce your heating costs but still protect you from the risk of frozen or burst pipes and flooding.

A smart thermostat can adjust your home’s heating and cooling temperature settings for optimal performance. This type of thermostat can be adjusted from your phone while you are on vacation and may be a wise investment before your trip. When you are on your way back, you’ll also be able to turn the temperature up to have it warm and cozy when you get home! By the end of 2021, over 40% of US homes were equipped with at least one smart thermostat.

Consider Turning Off the Main Water Valve

This is still cause for some debate. But most plumbing and HVAC technicians suggest you should turn off your water supply when you are away for more than a day or two during the winter – provided no else will be home in the house!

To do this, shut off the main water supply valve. Then, be sure to drain the pipes by letting the water run from several water fixtures at the same time, such as a bathroom, the kitchen sink, etc., until the water stops running. The recommendation is to start on the top level of your home and work your way down.

If you prefer not to turn off the water entirely, you may be able to turn your water pump to the lowest setting or, better yet, check to see if there’s a vacation mode setting. Many newer models have this option. It allows you to conserve water and prevents freeze damage. In all cases, follow the guidelines of the manufacturer or your plumbing professional.

Make Sure Vents and Registers are Clear and Open

Make sure all of your air vents or registers are open to ensure airflow. Blocked or closed air vents can decrease efficiency, cause your utility bill to rise, your system to work harder, or prevent air from reaching certain parts of your home.

Replace the Air Filter

If you will be away for an extended period of time, clean or replace the air filter before you leave. Since your HVAC system will periodically come on to keep temperature and humidity levels from damaging your home and possessions, you will want to make sure your air filter lasts for the duration of your trip. A dirty air filter can restrict airflow the unit needs to properly function, causing more wear and tear as well as wasted energy. Changing the air filter before you leave, can keep your system from having to work too hard while you’re away from home.

Schedule Your Annual Tune-Up

If your HVAC system hasn’t had its annual tune-up this fall or winter, make sure you schedule one before you leave. Making sure your equipment is in the best condition possible goes a long way to making sure it will function safely and efficiently in all circumstances. As the saying goes, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

Call Levco for All Your HVAC Service Needs!

Whether it’s an annual tune up, a fuel delivery or expert advice, Levco professionals are among the elite in the industry. Give us a call at (203) 533-8249 or contact us today!

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