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Winterizing a home

Hi All, I have a question about how to winterize a home so that I won't have to turn the heater on all winter long. My rental located in the mid-Atlantic has been vacant since last October. It is a single level, 1500 sq ft. cape cod style house. During the winter months, I left the heater on at 55 degrees to prevent pipe freezes. I'm not sure why (perhaps it's because no one is home, and therefore, no body heat is generated) but my heating bill was an astronomical $350 per month! It was an unusually cold winter in the mid-Atlantic.

If we were to winterize the house by turning off the water and draining the pipes, could we have turned the heat off completely? Also, what should we do with the water heater? At one point, we shut off the water, but we were not sure if we had to turn the water heater off too (it's electric).


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