Whether it’s a tropical vacation or a lengthy trip for work, traveling means making plans for your heating and cooling system. You won’t be using it as long as you’re away, so you can adjust it as necessary to limit your energy use. At the same time, you shouldn't just turn it off for the entire time you're out of the house.

For the most part, it’s better to leave your HVAC system running and just make adjustments depending on the season. That way you can minimize energy costs without worrying about returning to an uncomfortable home. We’ll review why you should leave your HVAC system on as well as the best thermostat settings for various times of year.

This Is Why You Shouldn’t Leave Your Thermostat on Hold

While you could be tempted to turn your HVAC system off before a trip, this could end up leading to costly problems by the time you get back. This is particularly true in case the weather will be severely hot or cold while you’re away from home.

For instance, switching the HVAC system down during the summer will sometimes lead to very high humidity. Not only will your home feel like a swamp when you come back, but it could have also invited mold/mildew growth or pest infestations.

And during the winter, letting your house get cold will sometimes lead to pipes freezing or even bursting. It’s exhausting to get home from a nice trip only to discover extensive water damage nearby a broken pipe.

Best Thermostat Settings While at Work

You can optimize the temperature even as you come and go 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 at the same temperature you’d usually have. Generally, it’s recommended 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 out.

But you can 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 expenses by making an adjustment of 7-10 degrees.

Energy-Efficient Thermostat Settings While on a Trip in Summer

If you’re leaving for a lengthier trip in the middle of summer, you can make bigger adjustments. This helps you avoid using too much energy while still defending your home from the issues that come with leaving it uncooled. Around 5 degrees is recommended for shorter trips while a larger adjustment of 10 degrees is ideal if you’ll be out of town for 2 weeks or longer. If you like keeping the house at 72 in the summer, 78-82 will offer great results.

Ideal Thermostat Settings While on Vacation in Winter

To determine the most energy-efficient thermostat setting for a winter vacation, just lower the temperature by the same amount you would raise it in summer. 68 is a popular winter thermostat setting, so turning it down to 63-58 will protect your plumbing while limiting how frequently your furnace operates.

Smart Thermostats Are Even Better: Benefits of a Smart Thermostat

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

Smart thermostats are stuffed with features to help you save energy and lower costs. For instance, certain models can monitor electricity prices to increase heating or cooling when prices are lower. They can be used with high-efficiency, variable-speed equipment to refine how long your HVAC system needs to run. It’s the perfect tool to enhance how you use your comfort system. If you’re considering investing in a smart thermostat, there are different ways you can bring down 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.