Between a much-needed vacation or a long trip for work, leaving home means making plans for your heating and cooling system. You don't need it while you’re away, so you can adjust it as necessary to limit your energy use. Just the same, you shouldn't just leave it off for the entire time you're gone.
In general, it’s ideal to leave your HVAC system on and just raise or lower depending on the season. That way you can minimize energy costs without having to worry about getting back 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 Shouldn’t Leave Your Thermostat on Hold
While you might be tempted to leave your HVAC system off before a trip, this can end up stirring up costly problems by the time you return. This is notably true in case the weather will be severely hot or cold while you’re away from home.
For instance, shutting the HVAC system down in the summer can produce very high humidity. Not only will your home feel like a swamp when you have returned, but it could have also invited mold/mildew growth or pest infestations.
And during the winter, leaving the furnace off will sometimes lead to pipes freezing up or even bursting. It’s never fun to get home from a vacation only to find substantial water damage nearby a broken pipe.
Ideal Thermostat Settings While at Work
You can make temperature adjustments even when you're just going to work. Because you’re away for 8 hours or more, it doesn’t seem sensible to keep an empty home heated or cooled as if you were there. Generally, it’s suggested to turn up the thermostat by 5 degrees or so. That means that if you prefer a comfortable 72 degrees, try adjusting it to 76-77 while you’re out.
But you could save even more if you try further adjustments to 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 a lengthier trip in the heart 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 without air conditioning. Around 5 degrees is suitable for shorter trips while a larger adjustment of 10 degrees is best if you’ll be away from home for 2 weeks or longer. If you prefer keeping the house at 72 in the summer, 78-82 should offer great results.
Best Thermostat Settings While On a Trip 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 adjust it in summer. 68 is a common winter thermostat setting, so adjusting to 63-58 will protect your plumbing while restricting how often your furnace runs.
A Smart Thermostat Can Help: Advantages of a Smart Thermostat
One of the best ways to manage your home’s HVAC system while away from home is using a smart thermostat. This advanced type of programmable thermostat uses intelligent software to understand your usual comfort habits. It learns these preferences and makes automatic corrections to the schedule for higher energy efficiency. And with Wi-Fi compatibility, you can remotely control your HVAC system using a mobile device or tablet.
Smart thermostats are packed with features to help you save even more. For instance, certain models can track electricity prices to increase heating or cooling when prices are lowest. They are compatible with high-efficiency, variable-speed equipment to fine-tune how long your HVAC system has to run. It’s the ideal tool to enhance how you use your comfort system. If you’re planning on investing in a smart thermostat, there are multiple ways you can lower your costs, effectively getting a smart thermostat for free. The next time you leave for vacation, you can receive true peace of mind that your HVAC system won’t stir up any trouble while you’re away from home.