Should you turn your boiler off when on holiday?
Whether you are looking to soak up some sun during the summer or escape the debilitating winter cold, holiday time is exciting, especially given that most of us are only just getting the opportunity to travel post covid. Holidays also come with a lot of preparation beforehand such as packing, travel plans and ensuring the home is left in the best condition. Homeowners often wonder what to do with their central heating systems especially if they are traveling during the winter. We will be answering a popular question asked by many homeowners “Should I turn my boiler off when I go on holiday?”
Summer holidays vs winter holidays
The season in which you are travelling determines if you should turn your boiler off or leave it on. If you plan to travel during the summer, then you might get away with switching off your boiler.
During the winter, however, it is recommended you do not completely switch off your boiler. While there might be some cost-saving benefits to having the boiler off, the risks involved far outweigh the reward and you might spend a lot more on damaged pipes or the boiler. Here are some of the benefits of leaving your boiler on when you leave for a holiday:
Prevent Frozen Indoor Pipes
During the winter, temperatures in the UK and many other countries drop below zero degrees at which point, water starts to freeze and expand. Pipes in insulated areas or along the exterior walls of your house are susceptible to cracks or bursts from the expansion of frozen water. Leaving your boiler on while on holiday keeps the water moving and above the freezing point.
Cracked or busted pipes result in leaks and could you imagine returning home from a holiday to a flooded house?
Cracked or busted pipes can also be very expensive to repair. There have been instances of homeowners spending upwards of £7,000 on repairs. This cost could add up from the damaged items and the inconvenience of searching for accommodation elsewhere as the plumbers conduct repairs. For cabinets that house plumbing pipes, it is advisable to leave this open such that heat can reach them to prevent freezing.
Avoid the Risk of a Damaged Boiler
Leaving your boiler off can result in the internal pipes getting frozen and damaged. Switching off your boiler can also result in internal leaks and the risk of irreversible damage is very high. Even if your boiler does not get to the point of replacement, there is a likelihood of its efficiency being compromised even after a repair. Aside from the damaged pipes, the valves and pumps could also seize up which potentially leads to central heating problems down the road.
Return home to a warm house
Getting back from holiday to an ice-cold house can be a huge downer especially if you had travelled to a warm area. Other than preventing leaks and property damage, leaving your boiler on also ensures you return home to a warm house and you can settle back in quicker. As a bonus, you enjoy your holiday much more knowing everything back home is well taken care of.
Best Practices to Leaving Your Boiler On
Realistically, you should not leave your boiler on 24/7 or at high temperatures since there is nobody home. So, how do you ensure your home has sufficient warmth without wasting energy and piling up your energy bills?
Establish a Schedule
You should establish a routine where you switch on your boiler for a few hours every day you are on holiday. In the UK, the coldest hours of the day during the winter range between 2 A.M and 5 A.M. It is especially important to have your boiler on during these cold hours. You could also run the boiler a few other times during the day to keep everything flowing.
Utilize your thermostat
A thermostat is an invaluable device you should invest and the beauty of thermostats is they can now be operated remotely through an app. A programmable thermostat enables you to regulate the hours your central heating is on and you can also regulate the temperature of your home. When you are away on holiday, a temperature of 15 – 18 degrees Celsius is ideal to keep the pipes and the boiler warm. Unless you live in a very cold area, avoid pushing the temperature beyond 20 degrees as this could increase your energy bills unnecessarily. These thermostats are an absolute must-have nowadays, which is why we install them with almost all of out boiler installations in Bournemouth or Poole.
Prioritize rooms that need the most heat
Thermostats enable you to control the temperature of a room independently. Spaces such as the basement tend to house sump pumps which can freeze up and result in mould growth. If your boiler is in a cold room such as the loft or the basement, then you should prioritize heating these areas to keep the pipes around the boiler in optimal temperature.
Cost-Saving Tips while on Holiday
The majority of homeowners switch off their boilers while away as they are concerned about their energy bills. There are some tips you can implement to save on costs while your boiler is routinely on during the winter. The biggest cost you will save on, however, is the expensive repairs and replacements from completely switching your boiler off.
Close all Windows and Doors before leaving
Other than preventing burglars from visiting your property, closing all windows and doors ensures cold air does not rush into your home. The rooms also retain more heat and your boiler does not have to work extra hard or long to heat up a room. Additionally, properly sealing the doors and windows also retains more heat in your home.
Frost Protection Thermostats
Modern boilers often come with an anti-freeze/anti-frost component that protects the internal pipework of the boiler. For boilers that might not have this component, investing in a frost protection thermostat is advisable. Frost protection basically works by keeping the water in your boiler above 5 Degrees Celsius. When the sensor detects water temperature has dropped below 5 Degrees, the boiler heats the water back up to 10 Degrees Celsius then goes off. At Senior Plumbing, we are specialists in Viessman boilers which have built-in frost protection thermostats.
Insulate your home
Insulating your home is a great way to retain heat in your property and prevent cold air from seeping through the cold walls of the house. You could insulate your home using thermal paper or spray foam. The additional benefit of insulating your property is the savings extend beyond your holiday period.
If you are looking for something more temporary, you could insulate indoor pipes to prevent exposure to the cold. If you have a regular or system boiler, you could insulate your hot water tank since the water starts to cool down rapidly. Insulating your hot water tank slows down the cooling rate and prevents the boiler from reheating the water again.
Leaving your boiler switched on while you are on holiday is a good idea and with most modern boilers there should be no risks involved. For your peace of mind, we recommend servicing your boiler before you leave if you haven’t done so within the last year or so.