Author Topic: Minimum safe temperature to leave a house  (Read 5439 times)

littlebird

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Minimum safe temperature to leave a house
« on: December 12, 2015, 10:21:58 AM »
We're new to living in a cold place (just moved from Seattle to Boston) and I'm wondering what's the minimum temperature you can leave a house at without damaging it? I'm talking about preventing cold/humidity damage both across a whole winter and when going out of town for long weekends. We have gas radiator heat if that makes a difference. It hasn't been cold yet this year but I need to figure this out before winter really hits!

The internet has given me conflicting information, but right now we're operating under the assumption that 55F is the minimum for long term health of the building. In Seattle we pretty much didn't run the heat in most of the house and only heated the living room because it was rarely cold enough to get below the mid-50s inside and I think this might have led to a little bit of a moisture problem. It seems dryer here so maybe the only thing I need to worry about is freezing pipes?

cawiau

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Re: Minimum safe temperature to leave a house
« Reply #1 on: December 12, 2015, 10:48:06 AM »
I don't know about what is best and we are in The greater Boston area: we just have ours at 68 all day long...

My wife sometimes raise it to 69-70 when she gets really cold... But 68 seems to have done the trick : her not complaining she is cold and me not complaining I am hot.

We have natural gas heat and have selected a budget plan so our bill is $66/month (stove/oven and dryer also run off natural gas).


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lthenderson

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Re: Minimum safe temperature to leave a house
« Reply #2 on: December 12, 2015, 10:52:51 AM »
I set my to 55 degrees when gone for an extended period. I would probably go a bit lower but my wife has quite a few tropical houseplants and I don't want to kill them off.

Malum Prohibitum

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Re: Minimum safe temperature to leave a house
« Reply #3 on: December 12, 2015, 10:54:05 AM »
It really depends upon the building.  Where are the water pipes, and how much insulation?  For example, in a trailer, the pipes are hanging under the trailer, and they will freeze even if your thermostat is set on 80.  Older homes with poor or no insulation may have this problem with water pipes in exterior walls.

In a modern home with modern insulation, I see no reason why 55 degrees would not be sufficient.  You can always turn off the water before leaving as extra insurance.

Miss the Pacific Northwest yet?

themagicman

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Re: Minimum safe temperature to leave a house
« Reply #4 on: December 12, 2015, 10:57:23 AM »
I set my to 55 degrees when gone for an extended period. I would probably go a bit lower but my wife has quite a few tropical houseplants and I don't want to kill them off.

55 for me as well

justajane

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Re: Minimum safe temperature to leave a house
« Reply #5 on: December 12, 2015, 11:02:43 AM »
I set my to 55 degrees when gone for an extended period. I would probably go a bit lower but my wife has quite a few tropical houseplants and I don't want to kill them off.

55 for me as well

+2. That's usually the recommended lowest temperature so that pipes won't freeze.

reader2580

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Re: Minimum safe temperature to leave a house
« Reply #6 on: December 12, 2015, 11:48:21 AM »
55 degrees is given as a minimum so just about any house in any condition won't have pipes freeze.  If your house is well insulated with no air leaks and no pipes in exterior walls you can probably go lower.  A big thing is to open any sink cabinets or bath vanities with plumbing inside so warm air can get to the pipe.

I wouldn't try going to 35 degrees like some have claimed they keep their thermostat set at all the the time.

Sofa King

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Re: Minimum safe temperature to leave a house
« Reply #7 on: December 12, 2015, 12:03:16 PM »
We keep it at 68 all day and night.

littlebird

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Re: Minimum safe temperature to leave a house
« Reply #8 on: December 12, 2015, 12:30:55 PM »
Wow 68!? That's like tropical for us. The warmest we ever go is 65, and that's only when I'm having a cold-feeling day. My husband can't sleep if it's above 62 in the bedroom and prefers even colder than that.

Haha, I don't miss the PNW yet, other than the epic powder they're getting at the ski resorts. This fall in Boston has been amazing and done wonders for my SAD. People laughed when we said we were moving partially for the weather but it's been working so far. Yes, I know, winter is coming.

55 seems to be the consensus for minimum so I guess we'll just go with that.

MayDay

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Re: Minimum safe temperature to leave a house
« Reply #9 on: December 12, 2015, 01:22:53 PM »
We set it to 50 when out of town or if we are gone all day. 60 when we are home.

lizzzi

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Re: Minimum safe temperature to leave a house
« Reply #10 on: December 12, 2015, 03:26:56 PM »
Our house in New York State (Mid-Hudson valley between Manhattan and Albany, similar temperatures/weather as Boston) was vacant from mid-December 2013 until mid-October 2014. We kept the thermostat set at 55. Never a problem. The house was a two-story, stick-built home with a basement...built in 1938...insulation was OK but not lavish.

ShoulderThingThatGoesUp

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Re: Minimum safe temperature to leave a house
« Reply #11 on: December 12, 2015, 04:06:18 PM »
Left it at 55 last time we left for a while during the winter. I have PEX manifold piping so I turned off every fixture at the source first and then flushed the toilets so nothing should have cracked if it had frozen.

Spork

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Re: Minimum safe temperature to leave a house
« Reply #12 on: December 12, 2015, 04:37:11 PM »
I'm with Malum Prohibitum...  There are too many variables. 
* how easily the conditioned space gives heat to the plumbing.  Some houses, the plumbing is all run inside conditioned space.  Some not.
* the actual plumbing material.  Pex is very elastic and is expansive.  You're much less likely to burst it if it freezes than copper or PVC.  Of course, if the pex is part of the heating system, freezing would be a bad thing.