Whether it’s 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 if you’re not home, so you can adjust the temperature as appropriate to conserve your energy use. Just the same, you don’t want to just shut it down for the entire time you're gone.

For the most part, it’s ideal to leave your HVAC system going and just make adjustments depending on the season. That way you can reduce energy costs without having to worry about getting back 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 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 causing annoying problems by the time you get back. This is notably true in case the weather will be severely hot or cold while you’re away from home.

As an example, switching the HVAC system off during the summer could lead to very high humidity. Not only will your home feel muggy and uncomfortable when you have returned, but it may have also invited mold/mildew growth or pest infestations.

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

Best Thermostat Settings While at Work

You can adjust the temperature even if you’re coming and going to work. Because you’re out of the house for around 8 hours or so, it doesn’t help your monthly energy bill to keep an empty home at the same temperature you’d usually have. Generally, it’s encouraged to raise 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 could save even more if you try further adjustments to the temperature. According to the Department of Energy, you could save around 10% on your HVAC expenses by raising the temperature by about 7-10 degrees.

Energy-Efficient Thermostat Settings While Away from Home in Summer

If you're on a longer trip in the heart of summer, you can make bigger adjustments. This ensures you don’t waste energy while still safeguarding your home from the issues that come with leaving it un-air conditioned. Something like 5 degrees is suitable for brief trips while around 10 degrees is worthwhile if you’ll be gone for 2 weeks or longer. If you enjoy keeping the house at 72 in the summer, 78-82 will offer the best results.

Best Thermostat Settings While on Vacation in Winter

To try and find the ideal thermostat setting for a winter trip, consider lowering the temperature by the same amount you would adjust it in summer. 68 is a frequent winter thermostat setting, so turning it down to 63-58 will keep your plumbing safe while minimizing how long your furnace operates.

Smart Thermostats Are Even Better: Advantages of a Smart Thermostat

An ideal strategy to manage your home’s HVAC system while out of the house is with a smart thermostat. This advanced type of programmable thermostat uses intelligent software to monitor your usual comfort habits. It learns these preferences and makes automatic changes to the schedule for higher energy efficiency. And with Wi-Fi compatibility, you can remotely adjust your heating and cooling with a smart device like a phone or tablet.

Smart thermostats are stuffed with features to help you save even more. For instance, certain models can observe electricity prices to bolster heating or cooling when prices are lowest. They can also work with high-efficiency, variable-speed equipment to refine how long your HVAC system should run. It’s the perfect tool to streamline how you control your comfort system. If you’re thinking about investing in a smart thermostat, there are multiple ways you can reduce your costs, effectively 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 cause any trouble while you’re away.