What to Set Your Thermostat to When Away

October 18, 2022

From a relaxing vacation or a lengthy trip for work, leaving home means making plans for your home comfort system. You can't use it if you’re away, so you can adjust it as appropriate to minimize your energy use. At the same time, you don’t want to just shut it down for the entire time you're out of the house.

For the most part, it’s best to leave your HVAC system going and just raise or lower depending on the season. That way you can lower energy costs without worrying about getting back to an uncomfortable home. We’ll review why you should leave your HVAC system on as well as the best thermostat settings for different times of year.

Here’s Why You Shouldn’t Leave Your Thermostat on Hold

While you may be inclined to shut your HVAC system down before a trip, this will sometimes end up leading to annoying problems by the time you return. This is especially true when the weather will be severely hot or cold while you’re gone.

For example, turning the HVAC system down in the summer will sometimes produce very high humidity. Not only will your home feel like a swamp when you have returned, but it may have also invited mold/mildew growth or pest infestations.

And during the winter, not using the furnace will sometimes lead to pipes freezing up or even bursting. It’s an awful feeling to come home from a nice trip only to discover extensive water damage near a broken pipe.

Energy-Efficient Thermostat Settings While at Work

You can make temperature adjustments even as you come and go to work. Because you’re not home for about 8 hours or longer, it doesn’t seem sensible to keep an empty home the same temperature as when you're home. Generally, it’s recommended to turn up 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 at work.

But you could save even more if you try further adjustments to the temperature. As reported by the Department of Energy, you may save nearly 10% on your HVAC spending by raising the temperature by about 7-10 degrees.

Ideal Thermostat Settings While Away from Home in Summer

If you're on an extended trip in the hottest part of summer, you can make more significant adjustments. This helps you avoid using too much energy while still safeguarding your home from the problems that come with leaving it un-air conditioned. About 5 degrees is appropriate for shorter trips while a larger adjustment of 10 degrees is best if you’ll be away from home for 2 weeks or more. If you prefer keeping the house at 72 in the summer, 78-82 can offer the best results.

Best Thermostat Settings While on Vacation in Winter

To try and find the ideal thermostat setting for a winter getaway, just lower the temperature by the same amount you would adjust it in summer. 68 is a popular winter thermostat setting, so lowering it to 63-58 will keep your plumbing safe while minimizing how often your furnace runs.

A Smart Thermostat Can Help: Benefits of a Smart Thermostat

An ideal strategy to manage your home’s HVAC system while away is using a smart thermostat. This innovative type of programmable thermostat utilizes intelligent software to understand your typical comfort habits. It applies these preferences and makes automatic adjustments to the schedule for higher energy efficiency. And with Wi-Fi connectivity, you can remotely access your HVAC system with a mobile device or tablet.

Smart thermostats are loaded with features to help you save even more. To provide an example, specific models can track electricity prices to boost heating or cooling when prices are lower. They can be used with high-efficiency, variable-speed equipment to refine how long your HVAC system has to run. It’s the perfect tool to simplify how you control your comfort system. If you’re planning on investing in a smart thermostat, there are a variety of ways you can lower your costs, in essence 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 stir up any trouble while you’re away from home.