Should I Turn Off My Water Heater When I Go on Vacation?

There are a lot of things to take care of before leaving for a vacation, whether it’s two days or twelve. If you’re like most of us, you probably make a to-do list. It might look a little something like this:

  • Pack your bags
  • Get a pet sitter
  • Set the thermostat
  • Don’t forget Kevin
  • Bring your boarding passes
  • Cell phone charger!
  • Bring a book for on the plain
  • Turn off all the lights!
  • But leave the porch light on
  • Seriously, don’t forget Kevin this time
  • Set the sprinkler timer
  • Bring an extra pair of underwear (anything could happen)
  • Tell the neighbors where you’re going
  • Put laundry away
  • Clean out the fridge
  • Turn off your computer
  • Turn on the alarm system
  • Turn off the water heater…?

Should turning off the water heater be included on your list? We actually get quite a lot of people asking us if they should turn off their water heater while on vacation. Although it’s logical to want to turn off all of your energy-using appliances while you’re out of the house, there are some good reasons why you should leave your water heater on while you’re on vacation.

The short and sweet answer: no, you should not turn off your water heater when on vacation. Here are some critical reasons why.

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Why It’s Better to Leave It On

  1. It keeps the water from freezing.

If you live in a cold climate, you definitely need to keep this first one in mind. Your water heater doesn’t just give you hot water for showers and laundry, it also prevents your water from freezing inside the pipes. Have you ever had frozen pipes before? It’s not pretty. Frozen pipes can cause cracks, leaks, or totally destroyed and burst pipes. Just avoid it altogether and keep your water heater on during vacation.

  1. Someone might need the hot water while you’re gone.

If you’re going to be gone for an extended period of time, you should get a house sitter. Even if it’s the neighbor’s kid who comes over to watch TV for a few hours, that’s better than nothing. A potential robber is going to look for activity in the home, and if they see lights on and hear noise, they’ll find somewhere else to pilfer. That being said, your house guest might need to use the hot water to run some dishes, take a shower, or otherwise. It’s best to leave the hot water heater on so you don’t have to give your guest instructions on how to do so.

  1. If it ain’t broke, leave it alone.

Your water heater might be working just fine and dandy, but have you ever turned something off only to realize that it won’t turn back on again? Yeah, it’s a thing – and you don’t want that thing to happen to your water heater. Rather than risk your water heater not turning back on, just leave it on while you’re away and pay the extra $5 you would have saved by turning it off.

  1. It costs more money to reheat the water later.

Turning off your hot water heater will actually cost you more than if you’d just left it on during your vacation. Sure, it costs money to keep your water hot, but it costs even more to reheat cold (or freezing) water later.

  1. You don’t have to remind yourself to turn it back on.

Sure we all make check-lists for when we are preparing to leave on vacation…but do we make checklists when we’re coming back home? If you aren’t one to turn your water heater off and on on a regular basis, then you’re very likely going to forget to turn it back on when you get home. This means you might have done two loads of laundry, a load of dishes, and only when you’ve gone to take your hot shower the next morning do you realize that your water heater has been off since you came home. Do yourself a favor and just leave the thing on.

Instead of Turning It Off, Try This

Have we made it clear that you shouldn’t turn off your water heater when you go on vacation? We’re hoping so. But, if you’ve really got your knickers in a twist about the cost of leaving your water heater on, try this. Just turn your water heater’s temperature down to the lowest setting. This keeps your water from freezing, but also means you’re not wasting money keeping your water piping hot (hint: you should be keeping your water heater at 120 degrees for normal household use).

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