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Selling Your Home? Don’t Turn Off Your HVAC System

  • Aug 08, 2016
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When you need to sell your home, you can expect a lot of expenses that will eat away at your profits. The cost of painting, cleaning, and staging your home will come out of your pocket. Additionally, you’ll need to cover real estate agent commissions, transfer tax, home warranties, and closing costs for the buyer.

Understandably, you may want to cut expenses wherever you can. In an attempt to save money, you may feel tempted to shut off all of your utilities, including your heating and cooling systems. After all, why waste money keeping a vacant home comfortable?

But before you call up your utility company, keep in mind that your efforts to save may cost you more in the long run. A few dollars now could save you thousands of dollars in repairs later.

Not convinced? Check out these key reasons for leaving your heating and cooling system on.

1. You Prevent Damage to Your Property

Your house may look safe and snug after you’ve closed all the windows and locked all the doors, but that doesn’t mean it will always stay in the same pristine condition.

Without an HVAC system to regulate your home’s temperature, your wooden flooring, trim, railings, shelves, and other features will suffer damage. High heat will draw moisture out of the wood, increasing the likelihood of cracks, gaps, and cupping. Low temperatures will drive water back into the wood, resulting in warping, buckling, and rot.

Additionally, other parts of your home won’t respond well to temperature shifts. Pipes could burst; door and window frames could shift. Without an air conditioner to remove excess humidity, mold could run rampant. These repairs could cost you thousands of dollars to fix, far more than you’d pay for heating and cooling. 

If you want to save money without damaging your home, adjust your thermostat settings according to the season. During the summer, set your thermostat to about 85 degrees. During the winter, set it to no lower than 50 degrees.

2. You Increase Buyer Comfort

Buyers want to feel comfortable the moment they step past the door. Essentially, they want to feel at home long before they can officially call the property their own.

As you show your home to buyers, you need to do everything you can to ensure their personal comfort. Your living room should look inviting, the kitchen should smell clean, and the bedroom should sound calming (no noisy neighbors or streets, if possible).

Unfortunately, if you turn off your heating and cooling system after you move out, you leave the buyer’s personal comfort in the hands of Mother Nature. While some days the weather may be to your advantage, most days will leave your guests sweating in the heat or shivering in the cold.

During showings, guests will want to immediately feel the warmth on the skin after a cold day in the snow, or they’ll appreciate the cool, crisp air after touring homes in the sun. As a general rule, you may want to try 72 degrees during the winter and 69 degrees in the summer, but feel free to adjust as needed.

3. You Help Appraisers and Inspectors

Most home contracts include a due diligence clause. Before closing on the home, buyers will need to do their part to ensure the home meets their expectations. Due diligence includes hiring a general inspector to assess the home’s overall condition and hiring more specialized professionals (plumbers, electricians, and HVAC technicians) to give complete reports on individual appliances and systems.

To complete due diligence, inspectors will need to check the home’s plumbing, electrical, heating and cooling. But if you’ve turned off your utilities, the inspector will have to wait to complete these services until after you’ve contacted your utility company. Your utility company may take a few days (or even a few weeks) to respond to your request for temporary power, and that delay could push back your final closing date.

Talk to a Technician About Extended Vacancies

If you anticipate your home standing empty for a few weeks or months, consider leaving your utilities on until the closing date. When you leave your heating and cooling systems on, you can prevent damage to your home and speed the selling process. 

However, if your home will remain vacant for more than six months, don’t forget to hire an HVAC technician to turn on, inspect, and repair your heating and cooling system before you show your home to buyers. Only a licensed professional can legally restore a disused HVAC system and make sure it’s up to code.