Everyone loves Maine’s lush, cool summers, but winter is another story. Summer residents close up their houses for months at a time, and even locals try to spend a bit of time further south if they can during the coldest months.
While plenty of people disagree about how warm to keep the house in the winter, most can agree it doesn’t make sense to keep the thermostat set for short sleeves while you’re away. But you can’t turn the heat too low without running the risk of frozen pipes. So, what’s the right temperature to set your thermostat while you’re traveling this winter?
The sweet spot is about 60F.
Generally speaking, if you set your thermostat to 68°F when you’re home, and lower it another 7°–10°F for 8 hours a day (for example, when you’re sleeping), you can save as much as 10% per year on heating. That lower temperature is just right for while you’re away, unless you plan to be gone for an extended period—or if there’s extreme cold in the forecast.
You don’t want to set your thermostat below 60, even if your home is very well insulated. That’s because when the temperature inside your house drops too low, for too long, you run the risk of frozen pipes.
Most bathroom and kitchen pipes rely on your home heating system to keep them warm. If temperatures get too low, water in your pipes can freeze and expand, eventually causing pipes to crack or burst. When the water melts again, the result can be severe water and structural damage and expensive repair work. There’s nothing worse than returning from a winter vacation only to find a water pipe has burst and flooded your home.
If you will be away for an extended period, a smart thermostat is a great tool. Smart thermostats take controlling the HVAC system in your home to the next level, helping you save energy and reduce heating costs. They work with WiFi so you can adjust temperatures remotely, using your phone or a smart home device such as Alexa. They can “learn” your preferences and adjust automatically, and when you’re traveling, you can check the weather at home and raise the thermostat a few degrees with an app on your phone while you’re sitting on a beach far away.
But for longer trips, you should also have someone who can check on your home, particularly if your neighborhood is prone to power outages from winter storms. Some smart meters will alert you if there is a problem with the power or your heating system, but not all of them. (A standby generator will kick on and keep your heat on, even if you’re away.)
When you plan to be away for more than a week or two, you should let us know, too—especially if you are on automatic delivery for heating oil or propane. We calculate when you’ll need a delivery based on your typical usage as well as the weather. If you are not at home for a couple of weeks, you won’t use as much fuel and we can adjust your delivery.
Have questions about your heating system or automatic deliveries? We’re here for you! Contact the pros at Pitstop any time.