Between a tropical vacation or a long trip for work, leaving home means making preparations for your HVAC system. You don't need it if you’re on a trip, so you can adjust it as necessary to minimize your energy use. At the same time, you shouldn't just leave it off for the entire duration of your trip.

In general, it’s best to leave your HVAC system running and just raise or lower depending on whether it's winter or summer. That way you can lower energy costs without worrying about coming back to an uncomfortable home. We’ll walk you through why you should avoid turning your HVAC system off as well as the most energy-efficient thermostat settings for summer and winter.

This Is Why You Don't Leave Your Thermostat on Hold

While you could be wanting to shut your HVAC system down before a trip, this could end up leading to costly problems by the time you get back. This is particularly true if the weather will be severely hot or cold while you’re gone.

For instance, switching the HVAC system off during the summer can produce very high humidity. Not only will your home feel like a swamp when you have returned, but it might have also encouraged mold/mildew growth or pest infestations.

And during the winter, leaving the furnace off will sometimes lead to pipes icing over or even bursting. It’s never fun to come home from a long trip only to come across substantial water damage near a broken pipe.

Ideal Thermostat Settings While at Work

You can optimize the temperature even when you're just going to work. Since you’re away for around 8 hours or so, it doesn’t help your monthly energy bill to keep an empty home at the same temperature you’d usually have. Generally, it’s suggested to adjust the thermostat by 5 degrees or so. Meaning that if you prefer a comfortable 72 degrees, try adjusting it to 76-77 while you’re at work.

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

Best Thermostat Settings While on Vacation in Summer

If you’re leaving for an extended trip in the heart of summer, you can make more significant adjustments. This helps you avoid using too much energy while still protecting your home from the hassles that come with leaving it un-air conditioned. Around 5 degrees is recommended for brief trips while closer to 10 degrees is ideal if you’ll be gone for 2 weeks or more. If you enjoy keeping the house at 72 in the summer, 78-82 will offer the best results.

Best Thermostat Settings While on Vacation in Winter

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

A Smart Thermostat Can Help: Benefits of Smart Thermostat Installation

A great way to optimize your home’s HVAC system while away is by investing in a smart thermostat. This special type of programmable thermostat uses intelligent software to monitor your usual comfort habits. It applies these preferences and makes automatic adjustments to the schedule for higher energy efficiency. And with Wi-Fi connectivity, you can remotely adjust your heating and cooling from a smartphone or tablet.

Smart thermostats are loaded with features to help you save energy and lower costs. For instance, some models can monitor electricity prices to bolster heating or cooling when prices are more affordable. They can be used with high-efficiency, variable-speed equipment to optimize 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 multiple ways you can lower your costs, essentially getting a smart thermostat for free. The next time you are away from home, you can appreciate true peace of mind that your HVAC system won’t cause any trouble while you’re away.