Preparing to go on holiday can be a hectic time. Who is going to look after the dog? Who will feed the fish? Who will water the garden and bring in the post? Not to mention the fact that most of us feel the need to clean the house from top to bottom before we finally wheel the suitcases out the front door! One of the most popular questions we are asked as professional plumbers and heating engineers is whether it’s a good idea to turn the boiler off completely when going away on holiday.
When a customer asks us whether they should turn off their boiler when going away, I always explain that it depends on the time of year and the amount of time they are going away for. I would say that if you are planning to go away for a short period (up to two weeks) during the summer months, then turn your boiler off completely. You will be saving energy and money by doing so. During the summer, the heating is rarely on anyway due to the consistently warmer weather so, if the boiler fails to turn back on when you return from your break, the knock-on consequences to your household (in terms of heat and hot water) are unlikely to cause major disruption while you are getting the issue fixed. There will be no cold spells to freeze the pipes, and the internal elements are unlikely to become stuck.
Most modern boilers have an anti-freeze setting, which is a great low cost, frost protection option for winter holidaymakers. It means the heating will turn itself on automatically when temperatures drop below a certain level. If you find that you are unable to switch your combi boiler off when you go on holiday, its anti-freeze setting is likely to be the reason! However, while an anti-freeze setting offers protection for your boiler, it may not necessarily protect your whole house. For example, let’s say you have a large house and the boiler is in the utility room, but the east wind is blowing down on a room at the other end of the house. While your boiler is protected, all the radiators and all the pipework will not be receiving the same level of protection.
Investing in a smart thermostat is another option open to you. This is where you can control your heating on the go from your phone, tablet, or other device. They can save you money in the long term, but the amount will depend on how you use it and the type of home you have. They are not the cheapest of options, so always chat with a professional heating engineer before you purchase to weigh up if its right for you.