What to Set Your Thermostat to When Away

October 18, 2022

From a much-needed vacation or an extended trip for work, leaving home means making preparations for your home comfort system. You can't use it while you’re away, so you can make adjustments as appropriate to conserve your energy use. Simultaneously, you don’t want to just shut it down for the entire duration of your trip.

For the most part, it’s best to leave your HVAC system going and adjust the temperature depending on the season. That way you can reduce energy costs without having to worry about coming back to an uncomfortable home. We’ll review why you should avoid turning your HVAC system off as well as the most energy-efficient thermostat settings for summer and winter.

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

While you might be inclined to shut your HVAC system down before a trip, this will sometimes end up stirring up costly problems by the time you get back. This is particularly true if the weather will be severely hot or cold while you’re out of town.

As an example, turning the HVAC system down during the summer could produce very high humidity. Not only will your home feel muggy and uncomfortable when you have returned, but it may have also invited mold/mildew growth or pest infestations.

And over the winter, letting your house get cold will sometimes lead to pipes freezing or even bursting. It’s never fun to come home from a long trip only to discover extensive water damage close to a broken pipe.

Ideal Thermostat Settings While at Work

You can optimize the temperature even as you come and go to work. Considering you’re away for about 8 hours or longer, it doesn’t make sense to keep an empty home the same temperature as when you're home. As a general rule, it’s encouraged to turn up the thermostat by 5 degrees or more. That means that if you prefer a comfortable 72 degrees, think about raising it to 76-77 while you’re gone.

But you can save even more if you're open to further adjusting the temperature. As stated by the Department of Energy, you may save nearly 10% on your HVAC spending by making an adjustment of 7-10 degrees.

Ideal Thermostat Settings While on a Trip in Summer

If you leave for an extended trip in the middle of summer, you can make larger adjustments. This prevents wasting energy while still protecting your home from the hassles that come with leaving it without air conditioning. About 5 degrees is appropriate for short trips while closer to 10 degrees is best if you’ll be gone for 2 weeks or longer. If you prefer keeping the house at 72 in the summer, 78-82 can offer beneficial results.

Ideal Thermostat Settings While On a Trip in Winter

To try and find the ideal thermostat setting for a winter trip, simply lower it by the same amount you would adjust it in summer. 68 is a popular winter thermostat setting, so lowering it to 63-58 will protect your plumbing while limiting how often your furnace runs.

A Smart Thermostat Can Help: Advantages of a Smart Thermostat

An ideal strategy to optimize your home’s HVAC system while out of the house is by investing in a smart thermostat. This advanced type of programmable thermostat uses intelligent software to understand your typical comfort habits. It applies these preferences and makes automatic adjustments to the schedule for maximum energy efficiency. And with Wi-Fi connectivity, you can remotely adjust your HVAC system from a smartphone or tablet.

Smart thermostats are packed with features to help you save even more. For example, certain models can monitor electricity prices to increase heating or cooling when prices are lower. 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 thinking about investing in a smart thermostat, there are different ways you can lower 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 stir up any trouble while you’re away.