What to Set Your Thermostat to When Away

October 18, 2022

From a relaxing vacation or an extended trip for work, taking a trip means making preparations for your HVAC system. You can't use it as long as you’re not home, so you can make adjustments as appropriate to limit your energy use. Just the same, you shouldn't just leave it off for the entire time you're out of the house.

Instead, it’s ideal to leave your HVAC system on and just make adjustments depending on whether it's winter or summer. That way you can minimize energy costs without having to worry about getting back to an uncomfortable home. We’ll walk you through why you should leave your HVAC system on as well as the most energy-efficient thermostat settings for different times of year.

Here’s Why You Don't Leave Your Thermostat on Hold

While you might be inclined to leave your HVAC system off before a trip, this could end up stirring up annoying problems by the time you return. This is particularly true in case the weather will be severely hot or cold while you’re out of town.

For instance, switching the HVAC system down in the summer can cause very high humidity. Not only will your home feel muggy and uncomfortable when you come back, but it may have also stimulated mold/mildew growth or pest infestations.

And in the winter, not using the furnace could lead to pipes freezing or even bursting. It’s an awful feeling to return home from a vacation only to find extensive water damage near a broken pipe.

Best Thermostat Settings While at Work

You can make temperature adjustments even when you're just going to work. Because you’re not home for about 8 hours or longer, it doesn’t seem sensible to keep an empty home at the same temperature you’d usually have. In general, it’s recommended to adjust the thermostat by 5 degrees or more. Meaning that if you prefer a comfortable 72 degrees, consider increasing it to 76-77 while you’re gone.

But you can save even more if you try further adjustments to the temperature. According to the Department of Energy, you could save about 10% on your HVAC expenses by making an adjustment of 7-10 degrees.

Energy-Efficient Thermostat Settings While on a Trip in Summer

If you leave for an extended trip in the hottest part of summer, you can make more significant adjustments. This ensures you don’t waste energy while still protecting your home from the hassles that come with leaving it uncooled. Something like 5 degrees is recommended for shorter trips while closer to 10 degrees is ideal if you’ll be gone for 2 weeks or longer. If you enjoy keeping the house at 72 in the summer, 78-82 will offer beneficial results.

Best Thermostat Settings While On a Trip in Winter

To try and find the most energy-efficient thermostat setting for a winter trip, consider lowering the temperature by the same amount you would raise it in summer. 68 is a popular winter thermostat setting, so lowering it to 63-58 will keep your plumbing safe while restricting how long your furnace runs.

A Smart Thermostat Can Help: Perks of a Smart Thermostat

An ideal strategy to regulate your home’s HVAC system while out of the house is with a smart thermostat. This advanced type of programmable thermostat utilizes intelligent software to monitor your usual comfort habits. It applies these preferences and makes automatic adjustments to the schedule for better energy efficiency. And with Wi-Fi integration, you can remotely adjust your heating and cooling from a smart device like a phone or tablet.

Smart thermostats are loaded with features to help you save even more. To provide an example, specific models can track electricity prices to boost heating or cooling when prices are more affordable. They can be used with high-efficiency, variable-speed equipment to refine how long your HVAC system needs to run. It’s the perfect tool to simplify how you control your comfort system. If you’re planning on investing in a smart thermostat, there are multiple ways you can reduce your costs, effectively getting a smart thermostat for free. The next time you leave for vacation, you can appreciate true peace of mind that your HVAC system won’t stir up any trouble while you’re away.