If your summer home sits empty for long stretches of the winter, you may be tempted to skip your annual heating system maintenance and just turn off the heat. Don’t do it! Servicing your heating system is even more important if your house will be vacant for any stretch of the winter, and what you do depends on how long the house will be empty. Schedule a FREE consult with Evergreen Home Performance to figure out the best solution for your home.
If you won’t be back till spring:
If this is a seasonal home that won’t be used again till spring, it makes sense to shut down completely. If you have a hot water boiler, that means calling in your plumber to drain the pipes and blow the valves this fall, and to open the house in the spring. Whatever cost is associated with this will be lower than heating an empty house all winter.
If you’ll be back and forth throughout the winter:
If you use your home throughout the winter, you’ll want to maintain a constant temperature to prevent problems from developing. Somewhere around 50-55 degrees will probably do the trick in a house that doesn’t have an ideal amount of tightness and insulation (any lower and you risk frozen pipes), but there is a maintenance cost to that unnecessary, unenjoyed heat. A better insulated and air-sealed home may be able to handle slightly lower settings and be able to make the most of passive solar heating. A qualified energy advisor from Evergreen Home Performance can help you identify customized solutions that will lower energy waste.
Since you won’t be there to notice if the heat goes out, it’s important to catch potential problems now. During your annual tune-up, ask your service tech about installing a freeze alarm, which can alert you if the temperature drops too low. You should also arrange for a caretaker to check on your home regularly, and daily during really cold spells.