From a relaxing vacation or a lengthy trip for work, traveling means making plans for your HVAC system. You can't use it if you’re not home, so you can make adjustments as appropriate to limit your energy use. At the same time, you shouldn't just turn it off for the entire time you're out of the house.
In general, it’s better to leave your HVAC system on and adjust the temperature depending on whether it's winter or summer. That way you can lower 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 Shouldn’t Leave Your Thermostat on Hold
While you may be tempted to shut your HVAC system down before a trip, this could end up stirring up costly problems by the time you return. This is especially true when the weather will be severely hot or cold while you’re away from home.
As an example, turning the HVAC system off during the summer can cause very high humidity. Not only will your home feel muggy and uncomfortable when you come back, but it could have also stimulated mold/mildew growth or pest infestations.
And in the winter, not using the furnace might lead to pipes freezing or even bursting. It’s never fun to come home from a nice trip only to find considerable water damage near a broken pipe.
Energy-Efficient Thermostat Settings While at Work
You can make temperature adjustments even when you're just going to work. Considering you’re away for 8 hours or more, it doesn’t make sense to keep an empty home at the same temperature you’d usually have. As a general rule, it’s recommended to raise the thermostat by 5 degrees or more. This means that if you prefer a comfortable 72 degrees, think about increasing it to 76-77 while you’re out.
But you may save even more if you try further adjustments to the temperature. According to the Department of Energy, you might save around 10% on your HVAC expenses by raising the temperature by about 7-10 degrees.
Ideal Thermostat Settings While on a Trip in Summer
If you're on a longer trip in the hottest part of summer, you can make bigger adjustments. This ensures you don’t waste energy while still safeguarding your home from the hassles that come with leaving it un-air conditioned. Something like 5 degrees is recommended for shorter trips while closer to 10 degrees is best if you’ll be gone for 2 weeks or longer. If you prefer keeping the house at 72 in the summer, 78-82 should offer beneficial results.
Best Thermostat Settings While on Vacation in Winter
To try and find the best thermostat setting for a winter getaway, consider lowering the temperature by the same amount you would adjust it in summer. 68 is a common winter thermostat setting, so lowering it to 63-58 will prevent ice from forming on pipes while limiting how frequently 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 is by investing in a smart thermostat. This special type of programmable thermostat employs intelligent software to track your usual comfort habits. It gradually understands these preferences and makes automatic corrections to the schedule for higher energy efficiency. And with Wi-Fi connectivity, you can remotely control your HVAC system with a mobile device or tablet.
Smart thermostats are loaded with features to help you save energy and lower costs. To provide an example, certain models can observe electricity prices to increase heating or cooling when prices are lower. They are compatible with high-efficiency, variable-speed equipment to optimize how long your HVAC system has to run. It’s the optimal 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, effectively 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.