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[2008] How low do you set your thermostat when you're gone?

Discussion in 'TUG Lounge' started by philemer, Dec 26, 2008.

  1. philemer

    philemer Tug Review Crew: Rookie TUG Lifetime Member

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    We'll be gone for most of Jan. and I'm trying to figure out how low I can set my thermostat without worrying about pipes freezing in my crawlspace. The low temps for Jan. in my part of ID usually don't get below 0 F. I've read numerous articles online and the two temps. I see most often are 50 & 55 degrees. What do you think?

    I'll also turn down my water heater temp (natural gas).
     
  2. sfwilshire

    sfwilshire TUG Review Crew: Expert TUG Member

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    Phil,

    Isn't your crawl space unheated? Not sure how any temperature setting would help you there. Hopefully your pipes are well insulated.

    You may need to consider leaving something dripping just slightly. We've done that in my bathroom when we were going to be away in very cold weather. The pipes did burst to it once and it was a terrible mess. We insulated better after that, but still get nervous.

    We almost always keep our thermostat at the lowest heat setting, which is around 50. When we're there, the wood stoves keep us warm most of the time. When we're away, that seems to keep things in working condition.

    We turn off our electric hot water heater and usually turn off water to the house. I guess if it were going to be really cold, we could drain the pipes inside.

    Sheila
     
  3. Passepartout

    Passepartout TUG Review Crew: Veteran TUG Member

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    I guess the question is, how much is peace of mind worth? Five degrees can't make that many $ difference on your gas bill. We're almost neighbors, so our weather is similar and I set the furnace to about 50 when we're gone. However, we have no pipes running through unheated crawlspace. There are thermostatically controlled switches (check Grovers or a stock supply place) that you could plug an electric heater into that would only turn on when the temp where the switch is gets down to (I think) 35 or so. Placed near the pipes, it should give you some protection.

    We will be leaving about the time you get back. Ahhh, a week TSing at Coronado then a Mexican Rivera cruise. You can't tell I'm anxious!

    Jim Ricks
     
  4. BevL

    BevL TUG Lifetime Member

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    This is what we do for our trailer that we winterize to make sure the pipes under the sinks and the water in the mini hot water tank doesn't freeze as there is no heat in there at all. It just blows on the areas we're concerned about and has worked well for the past few winters for us.
     
  5. camachinist

    camachinist TUG Member

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    There are also thermostatically controlled heat tapes (looks like a stiff extension cord) that can be wrapped around pipes in vulnerable unheated spaces. I have one around my exposed backflow preventer and supply piping adjacent to our deep well domestic pump.

    As far as house stuff, at my mom's I just put some winterizer (kinda like propylene glycol) in the toilets and traps, set the hot water heater to vacation and shut off the furnace except for the standing pilot. If temps are expected to go to a hard freeze (below 32F for a number of days and nights), I'll leave the furnace on at 50 degrees (the minimum). The ground under her house never freezes (we don't live in a hard freeze zone) and the pipes are steel and the ground radiates enough heat to keep them from freezing. The above has worked with an empty house for about 3 winters now.
     
  6. RDB

    RDB TUG Member

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    When we lived in Cadillac, MI, I treated the house as though everything would freeze while we were gone... Seems as though while you're away, electric goes out or that's when lines break... always something!

    So, I suggest you treat for everything freezing, just to have peace of mind. Plants go to someone else. Drain all water including the water tank(s) and treat traps and commodes. Set heat to minimum.

    That way, if you lose heat you're covered. To me it's worth the effort, just to know we aren't flooded or froze up while we're off somewhere enjoying life.
     
  7. pjrose

    pjrose Tug Review Crew: Rookie TUG Member

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    We only turn it down to around 60.

    We don't do anything about the water, but after reading the posts I guess we should....
     
  8. Fern Modena

    Fern Modena TUG Lifetime Member

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    We have *two* absolutes for unoccupied houses here. Low needs to be no lower than 62º in winter, and high no higher than 84º in summer. Otherwise we will have cracking baseboards, etc. We also seal the toilet (with saran) if nobody will be around to flush it every week or two. In addition, in the wintertime we put insulated socks on the faucets outside and wrap the water intake. Many people here who haven't done this have had pipes burst.

    So much for the desert.

    Fern
     
  9. Icarus

    Icarus TUG Member

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    huh? :)

    -David
     
  10. "Roger"

    "Roger" TUG Member

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    I am a 55 person. If the weather is at all decent (yes, I realize that you live in Idaho), I doubt if the extra five degrees will make that much difference. If the temperatures were to dip into the minus ten (or worse) range, then, as Passepartout notes, the peace of mind is worth the extra cost. I would be worried sick about a water pipe on an exterior wall with a closet or cupboard in front, bursting.

    If I lived in a warmer climate, then I might be more willing to risk turning the thermostat down to 50.
     
  11. BevL

    BevL TUG Lifetime Member

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    Can't be a fraternity prank. Never heard of this one either.
     
  12. nana7

    nana7 TUG Member

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    We also turn heat down to 60 and shut water off at the toilet etc. We purchased a "timer'/temp control' that plugs into a lamp. We set the lamp on a table in front of a window. If the temperture goes below a certain degree the lamp comes on. Very easy for a neighbor to watch for the light and call for help or check the house. Well worth the money.
     
  13. ketamine

    ketamine TUG Member

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    At 7800 feet

    We live in mountainous Coloradoin summer and leave Oct to May. We set ours at 55 but we also drain all the water from the plumbing and put some anti-freeze in the toilets.

    'have done this in two different homes over some pretty cold winters and have had no problems.

    Happy New Year to all!
    /k
     
  14. Fern Modena

    Fern Modena TUG Lifetime Member

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    Its not a fraternity prank. When we closed on our house we had a homeowner seminar and were given a maintenence book on living in the desert. If you are away longer than two weeks you need to seal the toilet, otherwise the water here will evaporate, and you'll have a real bad odor. Honestly.

    We've got other things different, too. We can't use WD-40 like the rest of the country. We have to use silicone spray. WD-40 + desert dirt = gunk. It makes a huge messy glop.

    'nuff said.

    Fern

     
  15. djs

    djs TUG Member

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    I put mine down to 45, and open the cabinets under the bathroom and kitchen sink. I've been away for a week in the winter and it's never dropped below 51. In fact, I actually set my thermostat to 45 during the days that I'm here and then it hardly drops below 60.

    In fairness, I live in a building with people below and above me.
     
  16. Amy

    Amy TUG Member

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    I wish we paid more attention to all this kind of prep before we left for our recent FL vacation. DH had set the timer for the downstairs heater to vacation setting, but the downstairs heater furnace conked out by the time we returned; and DH had turned off the upstairs heater for some reason (I still can't figure this one out as we've never done that before). We returned home last week to roughly 30 degrees temps inside the house (and it was below zero outside) -- shortly after we stepped inside the house DS (4 yrs old) said he wanted to return to the warm minivan. It was pretty miserable for a couple of hours as we took care of stuff, fed lunch to the kids, and rushed out of the house to hang out in the warm mall while our heaters worked to warm up the house. The pipes in our upstairs master suite (add on above the garage) froze and took 1 1/2 days to defrost (with a lot of space heating and warmer temps); good thing we didn't have any burst pipes! I'm saving the tips on this thread for future reference.
     
  17. bogey21

    bogey21 TUG Member

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    Interesting comments. I am single and keep the thermostat in the house I live in at 60 degrees all the time during the Winter. From time to time I heat the room I am in with a space heater. When I leave town, I kick it down to 55 degrees and open kitchen and bathroom cabinets.

    George
     
  18. Amy

    Amy TUG Member

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    Why have a couple of posters mentioned opening the cabinet doors? What does that do?
     
  19. Passepartout

    Passepartout TUG Review Crew: Veteran TUG Member

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    If the cabinets that house plumbing fixtures are on outside walls, it can get significantly colder inside them than in the room. Open the door and voilla! same temp as the room. If the plumbing is in interior walls, it won't make any difference.

    Jim Ricks
     
  20. "Roger"

    "Roger" TUG Member

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    Since you don't seem to be getting a single clear answer to your question, Phil, I have a modest proposal ...

    I am sure as an old time Viking fan, especially one from Idaho, you feel your team sold out to a certain degree (pun intended) when they moved their games indoors. Part of the Viking lore was having those warm weather sissy teams come up from Los Angeles, Dallas, or Miami and having them play in below zero weather. (I never did understand why it was unfair for those teams to have to play in below zero weather while it was perfectly fair for the Vikings or the Packers to have to go down to Tampa and play in 90 degree weather with 90 percent humidity in December.)

    Well tomorrow your Vikings have a big game coming up with a spot in the playoffs at stake. Why not relive the past a bit while conducting an experiment?

    You can turn your thermostat down to fifty degrees and then sit and watch the game on TV while sitting in your underwear. This would be a win-win situation. You could pretend that you are watching the game in the old Metropolitan stadium while you find out the answer to your question. (Is the house safe at that temperature.) In fact, if the Vikings do win (and I'll be rooting for them too), you would then have a win-win-win situation - memories of the good ol' days, an answer to your question, and a Viking place in the playoffs. It might even be so much fun, you could try setting the thermostat at 45 for the first playoff game. ;) ;) ;)
     
  21. philemer

    philemer Tug Review Crew: Rookie TUG Lifetime Member

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    "Roger", you are too funny! :D Can't try your experiment since we'll on the plane to Hawaii during the Viking game tomorrow. Drats! Cold, or warm, the Vikings should triumph. The Giants will be saving their stars for the playoffs. :)

    Thanks for all the good responses. I think I'll set the thermostat to 55 deg. & turn off the water under the sinks/toilets/washing machine. Good to go!
     
  22. fishn_guy

    fishn_guy Guest

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    I have a boiler with 5 heating zones that distribute heat by circulating hot water to the baseboards. Would it be a good idea to shut off the well pump and drain the well tank in case the power goes out and the pipes freeze. This way I won't have a broken pipe being fed water when the power comes back on. Will the boiler still function without pressure from the supply side?

    Mike
     
  23. DeniseM

    DeniseM Moderator

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    Please note that this thread is a year old...
     
  24. philemer

    philemer Tug Review Crew: Rookie TUG Lifetime Member

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    But the info is still germane. :)

    I don't know the answer about the boiler. Maybe an expert will chip in.
     
  25. judyjht

    judyjht TUG Member

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    We have a log house in Maine and the builder said to set it at 55 when we are away. He said 40 was a bit iffy. We wanted to do 50 but he said it is not worth the chance. So, we are doing 55 when we are not here.
     

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