Whether it’s a much-needed vacation or an extended trip for work, taking a trip means making preparations for your HVAC system. You don't need it if you’re away, so you can make adjustments as needed to limit your energy use. Simultaneously, 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 better to leave your HVAC system on and adjust the temperature depending on the season. That way you can reduce energy costs without having to worry about returning to an uncomfortable home. We’ll explain why you should avoid turning your HVAC system off as well as the best thermostat settings for summer and winter.

Here’s Why You Don't Leave Your Thermostat Alone

While you might be inclined to leave your HVAC system off before a trip, this can end up leading to costly problems by the time you get back. This is particularly true when the weather will be severely hot or cold while you’re gone.

As an example, turning the HVAC system off during the summer could produce very high humidity. Not only will your home feel gross when you return, but it could have also encouraged mold/mildew growth or pest infestations.

And over the winter, not using the furnace will sometimes lead to pipes freezing or even bursting. It’s never fun to get home from a vacation only to come across extensive water damage nearby a broken pipe.

Best Thermostat Settings While at Work

You can adjust the temperature even as you come and go to work. Since you’re out of the house for about 8 hours or longer, it doesn’t seem sensible to keep an empty home at the same temperature you’d usually have. In general, it’s recommended to raise the thermostat by 5 degrees or more. This means that if you prefer a comfortable 72 degrees, consider raising it to 76-77 while you’re out.

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

Energy-Efficient Thermostat Settings While on a Trip in Summer

If you're on a longer trip in the hottest part of summer, you can make larger adjustments. This ensures you don’t waste energy while still protecting your home from the problems that come with leaving it uncooled. Something like 5 degrees is appropriate for brief trips while around 10 degrees is ideal 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 beneficial results.

Ideal Thermostat Settings While Away from Home in Winter

To figure out the best thermostat setting for a winter vacation, consider lowering the temperature by the same amount you would raise it in summer. 68 is a popular winter thermostat setting, so adjusting to 63-58 will prevent ice from forming on pipes while minimizing how often your furnace runs.

A Smart Thermostat Can Help: Advantages of Smart Thermostat Installation

An ideal strategy to regulate your home’s HVAC system while away is by investing in a smart thermostat. This innovative 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 higher energy efficiency. And with Wi-Fi integration, you can remotely adjust your heating and cooling using a smartphone or tablet.

Smart thermostats are stuffed with features to help you save even more. For example, specific models can observe electricity prices to bolster heating or cooling when prices are lowest. They can be used with high-efficiency, variable-speed equipment to optimize how long your HVAC system needs to run. It’s the perfect tool to streamline how you control your comfort system. If you’re considering investing in a smart thermostat, there are a variety of ways you can bring down your costs, essentially getting a smart thermostat for free. The next time you leave for vacation, you can enjoy true peace of mind that your HVAC system won’t stir up any trouble while you’re away from home.