What to Set Your Thermostat to When Away

October 18, 2022

Whether it’s a much-needed vacation or a lengthy trip for work, taking a trip means making preparations for your heating and cooling system. You won’t be using it while you’re not home, so you can adjust the temperature as appropriate to minimize your energy use. Simultaneously, you don’t want to just leave it off for the entire time you're out of the house.

In general, it’s best to leave your HVAC system going and just make adjustments depending on the season. That way you can reduce energy costs without stressing 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 Avoid Leaving Your Thermostat on Hold

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

For instance, shutting the HVAC system off in the summer could cause very high humidity. Not only will your home feel muggy and uncomfortable when you come back, but it may have also encouraged mold/mildew growth or pest infestations.

And during the winter, leaving the furnace off could lead to pipes freezing up or even bursting. It’s exhausting to come home from a nice trip only to discover substantial 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. 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 recommended to adjust the thermostat by 5 degrees or more. Meaning that if you prefer a comfortable 72 degrees, think about raising it to 76-77 while you’re at work.

But you could save even more if you're open to further adjusting the temperature. As reported by the Department of Energy, you might save about 10% on your HVAC costs by raising the temperature by about 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 more significant adjustments. This helps you avoid using too much energy while still safeguarding your home from the issues that come with leaving it un-air conditioned. About 5 degrees is appropriate for short trips while closer to 10 degrees is ideal 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 will offer great results.

Best Thermostat Settings While On a Trip in Winter

To try and find the best thermostat setting for a winter getaway, consider lowering the temperature by the same amount you would increase it in summer. 68 is a frequent winter thermostat setting, so lowering it to 63-58 will protect your plumbing while minimizing how often your furnace runs.

A Smart Thermostat Can Help: Benefits of a Smart Thermostat

An ideal strategy to optimize your home’s HVAC system while away from home is using a smart thermostat. This special type of programmable thermostat utilizes intelligent software to understand your usual comfort habits. It applies these preferences and makes automatic corrections to the schedule for higher energy efficiency. And with Wi-Fi compatibility, you can remotely adjust your HVAC system using a smart device like a phone or tablet.

Smart thermostats are packed with features to help you save even more. For example, some models can track electricity prices to bolster heating or cooling when prices are lower. They are compatible with high-efficiency, variable-speed equipment to refine how long your HVAC system needs to run. It’s the optimal tool to enhance how you control your comfort system. If you’re considering investing in a smart thermostat, there are different ways you can bring down 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 stir up any trouble while you’re gone.