From a relaxing vacation or a long trip for work, leaving home means making preparations for your HVAC system. You won’t be using it as long as you’re away, so you can make adjustments as necessary to minimize your energy use. Just the same, you don’t want to just shut it down for the entire time you're out of the house.
For the most part, it’s ideal to leave your HVAC system running and just make adjustments depending on the time of year. That way you can lower energy costs without worrying about returning to an uncomfortable home. We’ll explain 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 wanting to shut your HVAC system down before a trip, this could end up stirring up costly problems by the time you return. This is especially true when the weather will be severely hot or cold while you’re out of town.
For example, switching the HVAC system down during the summer could produce very high humidity. Not only will your home feel muggy and uncomfortable when you come back, but it could have also invited mold/mildew growth or pest infestations.
And over the winter, letting your house get cold might lead to pipes freezing or even bursting. It’s never fun to come home from a vacation only to discover considerable water damage near a broken pipe.
Best Thermostat Settings While at Work
You can optimize the temperature even as you come and go to work. Because you’re out of the house for about 8 hours or longer, it doesn’t help your monthly energy bill to keep an empty home the same temperature as when you're home. As a general rule, it’s encouraged to raise the thermostat by 5 degrees or more. That means that if you prefer a comfortable 72 degrees, consider increasing it to 76-77 while you’re at work.
But you can save even more if you’re willing to further adjust the temperature. As stated by the Department of Energy, you could save around 10% on your HVAC expenses by increasing the adjustment to 7-10 degrees.
Ideal Thermostat Settings While Away from Home in Summer
If you're on a lengthier trip in the heart of summer, you can make larger adjustments. This ensures you don’t waste energy while still protecting your home from the issues that come with leaving it un-air conditioned. Something like 5 degrees is appropriate for short trips while around 10 degrees is ideal if you’ll be gone for 2 weeks or longer. If you prefer keeping the house at 72 in the summer, 78-82 will offer the best results.
Recommended Thermostat Settings While Away from Home in Winter
To figure out 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 common winter thermostat setting, so turning it down to 63-58 will protect your plumbing while limiting how long your furnace runs.
A Smart Thermostat Can Help: Benefits of a Smart Thermostat
One of the best ways to optimize your home’s HVAC system while away is with a smart thermostat. This advanced type of programmable thermostat employs intelligent software to understand your preferred comfort habits. It learns these preferences and makes automatic changes to the schedule for higher energy efficiency. And with Wi-Fi integration, you can remotely access your HVAC system using a smartphone or tablet.
Smart thermostats are packed 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 lowest. They can also work with high-efficiency, variable-speed equipment to fine-tune how long your HVAC system has to run. It’s the optimal tool to simplify how you control 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 enjoy true peace of mind that your HVAC system won’t cause any trouble while you’re away from home.