Between a much-needed vacation or a lengthy trip for work, traveling means making preparations for your HVAC system. You won’t be using it as long as you’re on a trip, so you can make adjustments as needed to limit your energy use. Simultaneously, you don’t want to just leave it off for the entire time you're gone.

In general, it’s ideal to leave your HVAC system running and adjust the temperature depending on whether it's winter or summer. That way you can minimize energy costs without having to worry about coming back to an uncomfortable home. We’ll walk you through why you should leave your HVAC system on as well as the ideal thermostat settings for summer and winter.

This Is Why You Avoid Leaving Your Thermostat Alone

While you may be wanting to leave your HVAC system off before a trip, this could end up causing costly problems by the time you return. This is particularly true in case the weather will be severely hot or cold while you’re out of town.

As an example, turning the HVAC system off in the summer can cause very high humidity. Not only will your home feel like a swamp when you come back, but it might have also invited mold/mildew growth or pest infestations.

And over the winter, letting your house get cold can lead to pipes freezing or even bursting. It’s an awful feeling to get home from a vacation only to come across extensive water damage nearby a broken pipe.

Energy-Efficient Thermostat Settings While at Work

You can make temperature adjustments even if you’re coming and going to work. Since you’re not home for 8 hours or more, it doesn’t help your monthly energy bill to keep an empty home the same temperature as when you're home. In general, it’s encouraged to turn up the thermostat by 5 degrees or so. Meaning that if you prefer a comfortable 72 degrees, consider increasing it to 76-77 while you’re gone.

But you could save even more if you're open to further adjusting the temperature. As stated by the Department of Energy, you could save around 10% on your HVAC costs by making an adjustment of 7-10 degrees.

Best Thermostat Settings While on a Trip 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 safeguarding your home from the problems that come with leaving it without air conditioning. Around 5 degrees is suitable for brief trips while closer to 10 degrees is worthwhile if you’ll be gone for 2 weeks or longer. If you prefer keeping the house at 72 in the summer, 78-82 can offer the best results.

Recommended Thermostat Settings While on Vacation in Winter

To try and find the ideal thermostat setting for a winter getaway, simply lower it by the same amount you would increase it in summer. 68 is a popular winter thermostat setting, so turning it down to 63-58 will protect your plumbing while minimizing how often your furnace runs.

Smart Thermostats Are Even Better: Perks of a Smart Thermostat

One of the best ways to manage your home’s HVAC system while out of the house is with a smart thermostat. This special type of programmable thermostat employs intelligent software to track your usual comfort habits. It applies these preferences and makes automatic adjustments to the schedule for maximum energy efficiency. And with Wi-Fi integration, you can remotely control your HVAC system using a smartphone or tablet.

Smart thermostats are loaded with features to help you save even more. For instance, some models can observe electricity prices to bolster heating or cooling when prices are more affordable. They are compatible with high-efficiency, variable-speed equipment to fine-tune how long your HVAC system has to run. It’s the ideal tool to simplify how you control your comfort system. If you’re thinking about investing in a smart thermostat, there are a variety of ways you can reduce your costs, essentially getting a smart thermostat for free. The next time you leave for vacation, you can appreciate true peace of mind that your HVAC system won’t cause any trouble while you’re gone.