What to Set Your Thermostat to When Away

October 18, 2022

Whether it’s a much-needed vacation or a long trip for work, traveling means making preparations for your home comfort system. You can't use it as long as you’re away, so you can adjust the temperature as appropriate to conserve your energy use. Just the same, you don’t want to just leave it off for the entire time you're out of the house.

In general, it’s ideal to leave your HVAC system running and just raise or lower depending on the season. That way you can lower energy costs without worrying 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 summer and winter.

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

While you may be inclined to leave your HVAC system off before a trip, this will sometimes end up leading to big problems by the time you come back. This is especially true in case the weather will be severely hot or cold while you’re away from home.

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

And in the winter, not using the furnace could lead to pipes freezing or even bursting. It’s an awful feeling to come home from a long trip only to discover considerable water damage close to a broken pipe.

Energy-Efficient Thermostat Settings While at Work

You can optimize the temperature even when you're just going to work. Considering you’re out of the house for 8 hours or more, it doesn’t help your monthly energy bill to keep an empty home heated or cooled as if you were there. As a general rule, it’s suggested to turn up the thermostat by 5 degrees or more. Meaning that if you prefer a comfortable 72 degrees, consider adjusting it to 76-77 while you’re gone.

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

Energy-Efficient Thermostat Settings While Away from Home in Summer

If you’re leaving for an extended trip in the middle of summer, you can make larger adjustments. This ensures you don’t waste energy while still defending your home from the problems that come with leaving it without air conditioning. Around 5 degrees is suitable for short trips while a larger adjustment of 10 degrees is worthwhile if you’ll be away from home for 2 weeks or longer. If you enjoy keeping the house at 72 in the summer, 78-82 should offer the best results.

Recommended Thermostat Settings While On a Trip in Winter

To figure out the best thermostat setting for a winter trip, just lower the temperature by the same amount you would raise it in summer. 68 is a popular winter thermostat setting, so adjusting to 63-58 will protect your plumbing while limiting how frequently your furnace operates.

A Smart Thermostat Can Help: Perks of a Smart Thermostat

An ideal strategy to regulate your home’s HVAC system while out of the house is using a smart thermostat. This special type of programmable thermostat utilizes intelligent software to monitor your typical comfort habits. It learns these preferences and makes automatic corrections to the schedule for higher energy efficiency. And with Wi-Fi connectivity, you can remotely access your heating and cooling from a mobile device or tablet.

Smart thermostats are packed with features to help you save on your energy bill. For example, some models can observe electricity prices to boost heating or cooling when prices are more affordable. They can also work 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 thinking about investing in a smart thermostat, there are a variety of 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 gone.