Best practice: Turn heat down or off during vacation?

Libby Walker
by Libby Walker
I'll be heading out of town for a week or so during the holidays. Should I turn down my thermostat or turn it totally off?
  23 answers
  • Carole Carole on Nov 18, 2014
    Turn it off! Why would you pay to heat your home if nobody is there? Seems like a no brainer to me unless someone else knows different? Anybody??
  • Vicki Vicki on Nov 18, 2014
    If you live in a cold climate do not shut off your heat. You will do major damage to your water pipes!
  • Your Organized Friend Your Organized Friend on Nov 18, 2014
    I would just turn it down, Vicki is right could do major damage on your water pipes in the Chicago cold weather. Also, I use to own an old brick home and we never turned the heat down because it was so hard to get it to warm up again.
  • Julies1949 Julies1949 on Nov 18, 2014
    If there's any possibilty of cold weather you can turn it down but not off. Another good way to prevent pipes freezing is to leave one tap .e.g. the bathtub running at just a slow drip. This keeps water moving in the pipes and far less likely to freeze. Also get a neighbor to pop in and check the house daily to keep your insurance in force. If you don't have someone checking on a regular basis, they can deny coverage.
    • Jennifer Jennifer on Nov 19, 2014
      @Julies1949 not a bad idea....if you do that, remember to put a bucket under the drip so as not to waste the water. You might have to end up using that water for emergency purposes later if you come back to find your pipes have either frozen or worse!
  • Susan Claire Susan Claire on Nov 19, 2014
    We leave the heat on as we have already had very cold weather. Open the cabinet doors under sinks so they are exposed to more heat. We have drained the pipes and shut off the water, last year as it was so cold. We still left the heat on low and had neighbors check.
  • Marisa Stewart Marisa Stewart on Nov 19, 2014
    @Libby Walker I would definitely keep the heat on but at a lower temperature. Houses don't do well and neither do the pipes. If you can shut off the water and drain the pipes.
  • Turn it down but do not turn if off, I am a property manager and I have seen mold grow because of no heat
  • Letty Letty on Nov 19, 2014
    We are usually hone for the entire winter. We always leave the heat ON at 37* to avoid indoor pipes from busting. Before we leave, we still shut all water to our house and drain the faucets.
  • Oscar gandarilla Oscar gandarilla on Nov 19, 2014
    Hi everyone I would not turn my heater off. But I would turn it down and I would also leave a faucet dripping just to be on the safe side.
  • Poo801723 Poo801723 on Nov 19, 2014
    I am going to repeat what many here have already said...turn it down to the minimum needed to keep your water pipes from freezing. The money you pay for the heat will be an insurance & a long term investment, when you consider what you will go through if you have frozen & busted pipes...not only in terms of the money you'll have to pay for repairs...but also the inconvenience & additional hassle it will bring. Save yourself all that, & send a little on keeping the heat at 58 degrees F, I think that is what the landlords require of their tenants. I could be wrong, just find out the exact temperature. I leave mine arr 62 when I am out during winter. But then, I turn the heat down even when I go to work.
  • Sharon Russell Sharon Russell on Nov 19, 2014
    You live in Illinois, so you know cold. What about houseplants? I'd turn the heat down a bit and leave a faucet dripping. And get a friend to check on things while you're gone!
  • Jennifer Jennifer on Nov 19, 2014
    You're in Chicago so definitely do NOT turn heat off. If you have plants and/or pets you're leaving behind, another reason to not turn heat off. I would turn it down to 60 degrees. You shouldn't need to leave water running if you do that. Make sure it's set to automatic so it only comes on at night when temps drop.
  • Luc735755 Luc735755 on Nov 19, 2014
    We are gone extended periods and we keep the heat at about 50F/10C and we also have a dehumidifier on the kitchen counter draining directly into the sink. It's on a 2 hour a day timer.
  • Connie Mar Connie Mar on Nov 19, 2014
    Many people turn their thermostat down to 55 F when they will be away for a long time. That is considered the minimum temp to keep pipes from freezing in very cold climates. Keep in mind, basements are generally cooler than main floors, and outside walls are even cooler (where most pipes are located).
  • Rebecca Rebecca on Nov 19, 2014
    Do Not turn the heat off, even in the South! My husband's family lived in a townhouse years ago in Charlotte, NC and came home to find water damaged from busted pipes had ruined their entire downstairs living area plus a portion of their neighbor's living area. Turn the heat down to 64 degrees and all should be fine. Better to spend a few dollars on heat than hire a restoration company to clean up.
  • Erla Cason Erla Cason on Nov 19, 2014
    I insist on all water valves being turned off in the house. I have experienced what just a small pin hole in a supply line can do in two days: carpet replacement, tile replacement and drywall replacement--over $1000 in replacement/repair work! It's definitely worth the few minutes time and effort it takes to shut down the supply lines to your washer, faucest and toilets!
  • Erla Cason Erla Cason on Nov 19, 2014
    yes, turn down the heat--we set ours at about 55 degrees.
  • Libby Walker Libby Walker on Nov 19, 2014
    Thanks for all the great info, everyone! I will def turn my heat down, not off -- for the sake of my pipes and my houseplants.
  • Shirley Kalinosky Shirley Kalinosky on Nov 19, 2014
    I turned my heat down to 62 and have the door under the sink open and maybe run a little water in sink. My son, who is lives outside of town, checks it and I have a friend in town from church with a key in case there is a power outage, or gas line problem in town and something needs reset.
  • Norman Ransom Norman Ransom on Nov 19, 2014
    Another energy saver while you are away is the water heater. Gas units have a vacation setting, electric can be turned down. If you shut off your water and drain the pressure off I would turn off the water heater, just be sure there is enough heat in the house and doors to inside water lines are left open.
  • Connie Mar Connie Mar on Nov 20, 2014
    It's not a good idea to turn down the temperature of a water heater. Bacteria can grow at lower temps. I think Lysteria is one that can be quite nasty. To save money, I'd make sure you unplug anything with a clock, anything that uses electricity even when it's off (microwave oven, coffee maker for example. Not your refrigerator. Shutting off the water supply to your washing machine can be a good idea, too.
  • SamHobb SamHobb on Nov 20, 2014
    It depends on how long you'll be gone. But it's definitely better to turn it down. There has to be constant temperature in your home, as pipes might freeze and burst. Room temperature will do best.
  • Marion Nesbitt Marion Nesbitt on Nov 21, 2014
    Turn down but not off. At lower temps, you can also get problems with paint beside what has been mentioned above. As stated above, it's not worth saving a buck to end up spending many.