What to Set Your Thermostat to When Away

October 18, 2022

Between a relaxing vacation or a lengthy trip for work, taking a trip means making plans for your home comfort system. You won’t be using it while you’re away, so you can adjust the temperature as necessary to minimize your energy use. Just the same, you don’t want to just leave it off for the entire duration of your trip.

In general, it’s ideal to leave your HVAC system going and adjust the temperature depending on whether it's winter or summer. That way you can reduce energy costs without stressing about coming back to an uncomfortable home. We’ll walk you through why you should leave your HVAC system on as well as the best thermostat settings for different times of year.

Here’s Why You Shouldn’t Leave Your Thermostat on Hold

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

For example, switching the HVAC system down during the summer will sometimes produce very high humidity. Not only will your home feel like a swamp when you have returned, but it may have also stimulated mold/mildew growth or pest infestations.

And in the winter, leaving the furnace off might lead to pipes freezing or even bursting. It’s never fun to come home from a nice trip only to find extensive water damage close to a broken pipe.

Energy-Efficient Thermostat Settings While at Work

You can adjust the temperature even if you’re coming and going to work. Since you’re away for 8 hours or more, it doesn’t make sense to keep an empty home the same temperature as when you're home. In general, it’s recommended to adjust the thermostat by 5 degrees or so. Meaning that if you prefer a comfortable 72 degrees, think about adjusting it to 76-77 while you’re out.

But you could save even more if you’re willing to further adjust the temperature. As reported by the Department of Energy, you might save nearly 10% on your HVAC expenses by increasing the adjustment to 7-10 degrees.

Best Thermostat Settings While on a Trip in Summer

If you leave for a longer trip in the middle of summer, you can make bigger adjustments. This ensures you don’t waste energy while still protecting your home from the issues that come with leaving it without air conditioning. About 5 degrees is appropriate for brief trips while closer to 10 degrees is ideal if you’ll be out of town for 2 weeks or more. If you like keeping the house at 72 in the summer, 78-82 can offer beneficial results.

Recommended Thermostat Settings While on Vacation in Winter

To try and find the best thermostat setting for a winter trip, consider lowering the temperature by the same amount you would increase it in summer. 68 is a common winter thermostat setting, so lowering it to 63-58 will keep your plumbing safe while minimizing how frequently your furnace runs.

A Smart Thermostat Can Help: Perks of a Smart Thermostat

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

Smart thermostats are loaded with features to help you save on your energy bill. To provide an example, some 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 fine-tune how long your HVAC system needs to run. It’s the perfect tool to enhance how you use your comfort system. If you’re planning on investing in a smart thermostat, there are a variety of ways you can lower 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 from home.