What to Set Your Thermostat to When Away

October 18, 2022

Between a much-needed vacation or an extended trip for work, traveling means making plans for your home comfort system. You can't use it as long as you’re not home, so you can adjust the temperature as appropriate to conserve your energy use. At the same time, you don’t want to just shut it down for the entire time you're out of the house.

In general, it’s best to leave your HVAC system going and just make adjustments depending on whether it's winter or summer. That way you can minimize energy costs without stressing about returning to an uncomfortable home. We’ll review why you shouldn’t turn your HVAC system off as well as the ideal thermostat settings for summer and winter.

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

While you may be wanting to leave your HVAC system off before a trip, this could end up leading to big problems by the time you come back. This is notably true when the weather will be severely hot or cold while you’re away from home.

For instance, shutting the HVAC system off during the summer could cause very high humidity. Not only will your home feel muggy and uncomfortable when you return, but it may have also invited mold/mildew growth or pest infestations.

And during the winter, leaving the furnace off might lead to pipes icing over or even bursting. It’s exhausting to come home from a nice trip only to discover considerable water damage close to a broken pipe.

Energy-Efficient Thermostat Settings While at Work

You can optimize the temperature even when you're just going to work. Since you’re away for about 8 hours or longer, it doesn’t seem sensible to keep an empty home heated or cooled as if you were there. As a general rule, it’s recommended to turn up the thermostat by 5 degrees or more. That means that if you prefer a comfortable 72 degrees, think about increasing it to 76-77 while you’re gone.

But you could save even more if you're open to further adjusting the temperature. According to the Department of Energy, you might save about 10% on your HVAC costs by raising the temperature by about 7-10 degrees.

Energy-Efficient Thermostat Settings While Away from Home in Summer

If you leave for an extended trip in the middle of summer, you can make larger adjustments. This helps you avoid using too much energy while still protecting your home from the hassles that come with leaving it uncooled. Something like 5 degrees is recommended for short trips while a larger adjustment of 10 degrees is worthwhile if you’ll be out of town for 2 weeks or longer. If you enjoy keeping the house at 72 in the summer, 78-82 can offer beneficial results.

Best Thermostat Settings While on Vacation in Winter

To determine the ideal thermostat setting for a winter vacation, 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 prevent ice from forming on pipes while minimizing how often your furnace operates.

A Smart Thermostat Can Help: Advantages of a Smart Thermostat

A great way to optimize your home’s HVAC system while away from home is using a smart thermostat. This advanced type of programmable thermostat utilizes intelligent software to understand your preferred comfort habits. It applies these preferences and makes automatic changes to the schedule for better energy efficiency. And with Wi-Fi compatibility, you can remotely adjust your HVAC system with a smart device like a phone or tablet.

Smart thermostats are packed with features to help you save on your energy bill. For example, specific models can track electricity prices to bolster heating or cooling when prices are more affordable. They are compatible with high-efficiency, variable-speed equipment to optimize how long your HVAC system needs to run. It’s the perfect tool to enhance how you control your comfort system. If you’re considering investing in a smart thermostat, there are a variety of ways you can bring down your costs, effectively getting a smart thermostat for free. The next time you leave for vacation, you can enjoy true peace of mind that your HVAC system won’t cause any trouble while you’re gone.