Handling heating and cooling in vacant homes

I split my time between two separate homes.

I spend the winter and fall at my smaller house in the south, and the spring and summer up north. No matter which residence I’m at, I never want to leave. I settle into a routine and dread making a change. It’s difficult to prepare the house to sit vacant for six months, and it’s a great deal of work to open up a house that’s been left empty for so long. There’s always dust and bugs and webs to deal with. The gardens and lawns are typically overgrown. When I move out of the house down south, I make sure to put a little bit of bleach in the toilets to prevent mold growth. The heat and moisture of the area can cause quite a few problems. I turn off the water completely, so there is no chance of leaks or flooding, but I leave the air conditioner running. I turn the thermostat up to 77 degrees so that the cooling system doesn’t need to cycle on very often. I’d rather not pay high electric bills on an empty house but I’m also hoping to avoid damage from mildew. When I arrive up north, there’s always problems caused by the severe winter cold and heavy snow. Even with the furnace running at a very low speed, the temperature fluctuations within the house results in a great deal of expanding and contracting. There’s often new cracks in the walls and even cracks in the window panes. There’s the fear of the water pipes freezing and bursting or the roof caving from the weight of the snow. If something were to go wrong with the furnace, I’d have extremely expensive issues on my hands.

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