If the calendar weren’t enough, these chilly October mornings tell snowbirds across the northwest that now is the time to pack up and head south.
Whether you’re a retiree headed for the sunbelt or just shuttering a vacation home, buttoning down your property correctly will ensure safety and avoid wasting energy.
The degree to which you shut down a property is a matter of personal preference. So, before you begin the process, take some time to assess your personal comfort level, if and how often you’ll have someone looking in on your property, and your willingness to invest in technology that may add convenience and peace of mind while you’re away.
For a full home shutdown, in addition to all other basic home shutdown steps, turn off the water and drain the water pipes inside to prevent potential freezing.
Start outside and check under the house for debris or moisture. Never block the foundation vents; be sure hardware cloth over them is sturdy enough to keep pests out. Also, replace any sagging or absent insulation and be sure the plastic vapor barrier is smooth against the ground. Add new insulation to any exposed or poorly insulated water pipes.
Next, replace any leaking weather stripping around windows and doors. Change air filters and schedule an inspection of your furnace or heat pump by an HVAC professional.
On the day you leave, set your thermostat to 55 to 60 degrees. This will prevent any potential freezing inside. Unplug all electronic devices, such as digital clocks, TVs, cable boxes, computers, washers and driers and anything with an LED light that glows when not in use. This will help keep your energy bill as low as possible. Also on the day you, go shut off the water heater — consider draining it for extra peace of mind.
After you empty and clean the fridge and freezer, unplug them and leave the doors cracked open.
Give your property that “lived in” look. Set lamps and certain appliances to go on and off on a timer. Ask a trusted person to stop by and check on the property.
Be sure to stop any unessential services, such as TV or newspapers, and have your mail forwarded. Consider alerting law enforcement and letting Clark Public Utilities know you’ll be gone, too.
Consider making your home a little smarter. There are several smart home products available that can give the illusion of occupancy and at the same time help you keep an eye on your home from afar. A “smart home” is one that utilizes automation and technology. Just know, they will require an internet connection for full functionality.
Many smart home security systems allow you to see video cameras in real-time or send you notifications when something enters its field of view.
Smart home products, such as smart lights can be set to automatically turn on at set or varied schedules, to give the illusion someone is home. Smart plugs go between an appliance, like a TV or lamp, and can also be programed or controlled remotely.
Smart thermostats keep your home running as efficiently as possible, whether you’re there or not. They can learn your daily schedule, temperature preferences and even use local weather patterns to automatically keep your home climate where you want it, while reducing energy waste. They can all be monitored and controlled from a smartphone or tablet from anywhere with an internet connection.
Energy Adviser is produced by Clark Public Utilities and relies on the expertise of utility energy counselors and staff, who provide conservation and energy use information. To contact us call 360-992-3355, email [email protected] or visit www.clarkpublicutilities.com.