What to Set Your Thermostat to When Away

October 18, 2022

Between a tropical vacation or a long trip for work, taking a trip means making preparations for your heating and cooling system. You don't need it as long as you’re not home, so you can adjust the temperature as needed to minimize your energy use. At the same time, you don’t want to just leave it off for the entire time you're gone.

Instead, it’s better to leave your HVAC system on and just raise or lower depending on whether it's winter or summer. That way you can reduce energy costs without worrying about returning to an uncomfortable home. We’ll walk you through why you should avoid turning your HVAC system off as well as the most energy-efficient thermostat settings for different times of year.

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

While you might be wanting to turn your HVAC system off before a trip, this will sometimes end up causing big problems by the time you return. This is notably true when the weather will be severely hot or cold while you’re gone.

As an example, switching the HVAC system off during the summer will sometimes cause very high humidity. Not only will your home feel gross when you return, but it could have also invited mold/mildew growth or pest infestations.

And over the winter, leaving the furnace off might lead to pipes icing over or even bursting. It’s exhausting to come home from a long trip only to come across substantial water damage near a broken pipe.

Energy-Efficient Thermostat Settings While at Work

You can make temperature adjustments even if you’re coming and going to work. Because you’re out of the house for 8 hours or more, it doesn’t seem sensible 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 so. That means that if you prefer a comfortable 72 degrees, think about increasing it to 76-77 while you’re gone.

But you may save even more if you're open to further adjusting the temperature. As reported by the Department of Energy, you may save around 10% on your HVAC spending by increasing the adjustment to 7-10 degrees.

Best Thermostat Settings While Away from Home in Summer

If you're on a longer trip in the heart of summer, you can make larger adjustments. This prevents wasting energy while still protecting your home from the hassles that come with leaving it un-air conditioned. Something like 5 degrees is appropriate for brief trips while a larger adjustment of 10 degrees is best if you’ll be gone for 2 weeks or more. If you enjoy keeping the house at 72 in the summer, 78-82 will offer beneficial results.

Best Thermostat Settings While On a Trip in Winter

To determine the most energy-efficient thermostat setting for a winter getaway, consider lowering the temperature by the same amount you would raise it in summer. 68 is a frequent winter thermostat setting, so adjusting to 63-58 will protect your plumbing while minimizing how often your furnace runs.

A Smart Thermostat Can Help: Advantages of a Smart Thermostat

A great way to manage your home’s HVAC system while out of the house is by investing in a smart thermostat. This special type of programmable thermostat employs intelligent software to understand your usual comfort habits. It gradually understands these preferences and makes automatic adjustments to the schedule for better energy efficiency. And with Wi-Fi integration, you can remotely control your HVAC system using a smartphone or tablet.

Smart thermostats are packed with features to help you save even more. For instance, some models can track electricity prices to boost 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 needs to run. It’s the perfect tool to simplify how you control your comfort system. If you’re considering investing in a smart thermostat, there are multiple ways you can reduce your costs, in essence getting a smart thermostat for free. The next time you are away from home, you can receive true peace of mind that your HVAC system won’t stir up any trouble while you’re away.