Are you heading out of town for the holidays? Many Albertans choose to fly south or to visit family in other provinces during December. So if no one is living in your house for the next two weeks, do you really need to be paying so much in utilities? Here’s what you need to know about what you can turn off and what you must leave on while you’re away.
Hot Water Heaters can be turned off — but only if you drain the tank. This isn’t a bad idea anyways, because your hot water tank should be drained and the sediment cleared away annually anyways. The reason you can’t leave the tank full of cold water is bacteria and mould will start taking over. If you just leave the tank off and don’t drain it, when you come home and start the tank back up, instead of a reservoir of warm water, you’ll have a sludgy science experiment gone wrong. Of course, if you have a tankless water heater, it won’t be wasting energy while you’re gone at all. So if draining your tank for every vacation doesn’t appeal to you, you may want to consider upgrading.
Furnaces can be turned down but not off. If the ambient air temperature in your home falls to low, it won’t just kill your houseplants — the water in your pipes will freeze. And let us assure you: frozen pipes are a complete nightmare. When water freezes, it expands by about 9% of its total volume. That may not seem like a lot, but an additional 9% of volume in a pipe that has no percent more room creates an astounding amount of pressure. The pressure builds until a weakness in the pipe fails and explodes. When you come home and the turn the furnace back on, the ice melts and suddenly your basement becomes a swimming pool.
If you have houseplants, we recommend lowering the furnace to around 15°C. If you have a cat or other pet that’s staying home with a pet sitter checking in on them, you may want to maintain a warmer house temperature. Talk with your vet about what range of temperatures is safe for your pet long term. If you have neither plants nor animals, you can even reduce the temperature down to 10°C — but make sure you have a trusted neighbour coming to check on your home while you’re gone.
We hope these tips help you save a little money while you’re gone over the holidays. From our family at Plumbing Paramedics, we wish all Calgarians a fun and safe holiday season. We look forward to serving you in the new year!