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Should I Turn Off Water Heater When on Vacation? & Why?

Fact checked by Stephen Conklin

should i turn off water heater when on vacation

The decision of whether to switch off their water heaters or leave them running while they are away is one that many questions individuals face as vacation time draws near.

Should I turn off water heater when on vacation? Others frequently suggest turning off the water heater to save energy and avoid potential risks. But a closer inspection reveals that it is wiser to keep the water heater running while vacationing.

Let’s think about the benefits of leaving a running gas water heater while you enjoy your well-deserved vacation before reaching for the shut-off switch.

Table of Contents

Reasons Against Turning Off the Water Heater

Now that we know that it is better to leave our water heater running while we enjoy time off, let’s look at all the reasons why to do so.

1. Convenience and Comfort


Imagine coming home after a peaceful vacation, looking forward to a warm shower to decompress, only to realize that your water heater needs to be restarted and will take hours to heat up again.

Fast access to hot water upon your return allows you to unwind in the convenience of your house, this is accomplished by leaving your water heater on.

2. Risks of Weather-related Issues


Turning off your water heater can put the plumbing system at risk if you reside in an area subject to freezing conditions. The water inside the pipe runs the risk of expanding and freezing, resulting in expensive damage and repairs. One way to avoid this is by having the water heater on continuously.

3. Halt Bacteria Growth

Legionella and other hazardous bacteria can flourish in stagnant water, but warm water inhibits their growth. When a water heater is left off for a long time, the water inside might get tepid, which can foster the growth of bacteria.

One of the functions of a water heater is it ensures that water stays hot enough to prevent the growth of hazardous bacteria by keeping a constant temperature.

4. Maintain Efficiency


Contrary to popular opinion, water heaters are made to function effectively for extended periods, particularly like an electric water heater.

Long periods of idleness or repeated on-off cycles have the potential to harm the unit and cause performance problems like lowered efficiency.

With all the benefits of keeping the water heater on, it is still vital to use caution and carry out regular maintenance as directed by the manufacturer. This entails routine inspections, leak checks, and making sure all safety equipment is in good working order.

5. Freezing Pipes


The pipes run the risk of freezing if you shut off the water heater while vacationing, making the temperature inside of the house drop dramatically.

As physics would prove, water expands when it freezes, leading to pipes bursting and water damage. This is especially important for homes in colder climates.

Benefits of Turning Off Water Heater During Vacation


To be fair, there are benefits to turning your water heater off, and one of them concerns energy consumption. While you’re away, leaving your water heater on will result in continual energy use even when not in use, which could raise your electricity rates.

Turning off the water heater could be a strategy to save energy while you’re away. However, compared to the difficulty and risks involved, the energy saved over a brief trip could not be considerable.

On the other hand, even though contemporary water heaters are frequently dependable, there is always a slight possibility of errors or leaks happening while you are away.

These problems may result in water damage and possibly expensive repairs. One can reduce the likelihood of such situations by turning off the water heater.

The choice to turn off your hot water heater while on vacation should ultimately depend on your circumstances, including the weather, the length of your trip, and personal preferences.

Before choosing a course, it is crucial to weigh the advantages and any potential hazards.

Alternative Solutions for Energy Savings


  • There is often a vacation or VAC setting on contemporary water heaters.

Check the handbook or the manufacturer’s website to find out if your water heater has this feature and how to use it. With this setting, one can reduce the water heater’s temperature to avoid freezing or heat buildup.

  • Another solution is thinking about putting in a timer or a smart thermostat for the water heater.

One can program it to turn on a few hours before their return from vacation, ensuring hot water is available while consuming the least amount of electricity while you’re gone.

  • Consider decreasing the temperature settings on the water heater before you go if it doesn’t have a vacation mode or timed feature.

The recommended temperature for energy efficiency without compromising safety is 120°F or 49°C. In comparison to higher settings, this lower temperature will still stop bacterial development and use less energy.

Unplugging or turning off other non-essential equipment, such as electronics, lighting, and small kitchen appliances, can help you save energy while on vacation, even though it might not directly affect your water heater. This little action can help your home use less energy when away.

Remember that every house and water heater system is different, making it necessary to consider particular characteristics and suggestions made by the manufacturer.


Should I turn off water heater when on vacation? Is it safe to leave it on? Contrary to old beliefs, there are many reasons to leave a water heater on when on vacation. Some benefits include convenience, protection against freezing temperatures, preventing bacterial growth, etc.

By taking into account these benefits, arguments, and added alternatives against turning off your water heater, one may decide what is best for them and guarantee an effortless return home with heated water ready for a much-needed shower.

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