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7 Must-Dos Before Leaving on Vacation

by Daniel Estevao on June 9, 2017

7 Must-Dos Before Leaving on Vacation - HVAC, etc.Heading off for your annual family vacation? Whether you’re leaving for a couple days or a few weeks, it’s important to take some precautions in order to protect your property and possessions while you are away.

To help you plan and organize for the upcoming vacation, we’ve put together a list of essentials before you leave for a trip.

7 Must-Dos Before Leaving on Vacation

1. Turn the Thermostat Up

Before you leave for vacation, make sure you set the thermostat to the temperature you want. While it’s not recommended to completely turn off your HVAC system, you can save significant energy by turning the temperature up around 7 degrees.

While the U.S. Department of Energy recommends that you leave your thermostat at 85-90 degrees F, we recommend a slightly cooler 80-85 degrees F. If you have wine, art, and other moisture and temperature-sensitive objects in the home, be extra careful with the temperature setting.

Don’t forget to change out the filter either. You want to make sure the air filter is clean for efficient HVAC use.

If you are going on vacation in the winter, make sure you keep the thermostat higher than 54 degrees in the winter to avoid frozen pipes.

2. Dust and Clean the Home 

Dirty clothes, dust, and a sink full of dishes is a horrible way to come home from vacation. Your future self will thank you for cleaning the home before leaving on vacation.

So will your HVAC system. By dusting and getting rid of other contaminants in the home you improve the performance of your HVAC system and create a clean and vermin-free home to arrive to.

Get out the Swiffer and Pledge wipes and clean all of your surfaces. Take a look and smell around your entire home to make sure you haven’t forgotten about a half-eaten pizza or anything else that could be found underneath your couch or bed.

Don’t forget to take out the garbage and clean out the fridge. In addition to avoiding a ghastly smell when you arrive back home, you’ll also help keep the vermin out.

3. Prep the Plants

Your indoor and outdoor plant concerns will depend on the length of your vacation. If you are leaving for under a week, you can get away with one good watering before you leave. Any longer than a couple days and you would be wise to enlist the help of a friend or neighbor. You can also try out those self-watering plant stakes.

4. Close Indoor and Outdoor Window Shades

Go around the home and make sure all of your windows are securely closed and locked. Use your outdoor shades if you have them, such as awnings, shutters, and window overhangs.

Cover all windows with drapes and blinds. If any of your windows are missing shades, consider draping a light colored blanket or sheet on the window side and a dark, thicker blanket on the outside.

For a more permanent solution, purchase dual shades which are highly reflective on one side (white) and heat absorbing (dark) on the other side. You can flip the shade around when the seasons change.

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, highly reflective interior blinds and shades “can reduce heat gain by around 45%.”

Window shades and coverings are not effective ways to prevent air leakage or infiltration. Make sure you caulk and weatherstrip around your doors and windows to seal any air leaks that you may have.

Learn about landscaping and other passive heating/cooling strategies to help slow the rising and lowering of temperatures within the home.

5. Turn the Water Heater Off

If you vacationing in the winter and live in a cold climate, you don’t want to turn off the water heater, but for summer vacations, it’s a very smart idea. Why would you want to continuously heat a whole tank of water when nobody is in the house to enjoy it?

If you have a water heater with a vacation setting, turn it on. If not, simply turn off the heat to your water heater using the temperature dial (sometimes located near the bottom of the tank near the gas valve).

If you are going to gone from the home for more than 3 or 4 days, we recommend turning the water heater off.

Learn more tips on reducing water heater costs.

6. Protect Your Home from Break-Ins

Due to increased vacations and travel, summer is the peak time of year for home burglaries. Reduce your chances of a break in with these tips:

  • Ask a neighbor to keep a watch over things.
  • Have someone mow the lawn, shovel snow, pick up mail, take the trash out, etc.
  • Hire a house sitter (they can also water plants, etc.)
  • Call the post office to stop the mail.
  • Use light timers (rather than leaving lights on).
  • Do not post your plans on social media; do not post while on vacation.
  • Lock up everything valuable (money, jewelry, passport, heirlooms, etc.).
  • Take the spare key indoors (or leave it with a neighbor).
  • Lock garage, cellar, and basement doors and windows.

7. Schedule Professional Home Maintenance

Nobody wants to come home to a water leak, electrical fire, or broken HVAC system. If you have not scheduled your annual plumbing, HVAC, or electrical tune-ups in the last year, now is the time to catch up.

Before your leave on vacation, make sure you schedule your annual home maintenance appointments. By catching problems early, you can save a lot of money and energy on repair costs, prolonged lifespans, and improved efficiency.


Pacific Heating & Cooling serves homeowners all over the Lakewood, Olympia, and Tacoma area.

Give us a call at (253) 292-3995 or schedule service online and we’ll send one of our qualified technicians out on your schedule.

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