Whether it’s a relaxing vacation or a lengthy trip for work, traveling means making preparations for your home comfort system. You won’t be using it while you’re not home, so you can adjust it as appropriate to conserve your energy use. Just the same, you don’t want to just leave it off for the entire time you're out of the house.

For the most part, it’s better to leave your HVAC system running and just raise or lower depending on the time of year. That way you can minimize energy costs without having to worry about getting back to an uncomfortable home. We’ll explain why you shouldn’t turn your HVAC system off as well as the most energy-efficient thermostat settings for summer and winter.

This Is Why You Shouldn’t Leave Your Thermostat Alone

While you may be wanting to turn your HVAC system off before a trip, this can end up causing annoying problems by the time you come back. This is particularly true when the weather will be severely hot or cold while you’re away from home.

As an example, switching the HVAC system off in the summer could lead to very high humidity. Not only will your home feel gross when you have returned, but it might have also stimulated mold/mildew growth or pest infestations.

And in the winter, letting your house get cold will sometimes lead to pipes freezing or even bursting. It’s an awful feeling to come home from a vacation only to come across substantial water damage close to a broken pipe.

Ideal Thermostat Settings While at Work

You can make temperature adjustments even if you’re coming and going to work. Since you’re away for about 8 hours or longer, it doesn’t make sense to keep an empty home heated or cooled as if you were there. Generally, it’s recommended to adjust the thermostat by 5 degrees or more. That means that if you prefer a comfortable 72 degrees, consider adjusting it to 76-77 while you’re out.

But you can 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 expenses by raising the temperature by about 7-10 degrees.

Ideal Thermostat Settings While on Vacation in Summer

If you’re leaving for an extended trip in the middle of summer, you can make bigger adjustments. This prevents wasting energy while still defending your home from the hassles that come with leaving it uncooled. About 5 degrees is appropriate for brief trips while closer to 10 degrees is best if you’ll be out of town for 2 weeks or more. If you prefer keeping the house at 72 in the summer, 78-82 can offer beneficial results.

Best Thermostat Settings While on Vacation in Winter

To try and find the most energy-efficient thermostat setting for a winter vacation, just lower the temperature 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 limiting how often your furnace runs.

Smart Thermostats Are Even Better: Advantages of a Smart Thermostat

A great way to regulate your home’s HVAC system while away is using a smart thermostat. This advanced type of programmable thermostat employs intelligent software to track your usual comfort habits. It learns these preferences and makes automatic corrections to the schedule for better energy efficiency. And with Wi-Fi integration, you can remotely adjust your heating and cooling from a smartphone or tablet.

Smart thermostats are loaded with features to help you save even more. For instance, certain models can monitor electricity prices to increase heating or cooling when prices are lowest. They can be used with high-efficiency, variable-speed equipment to optimize how long your HVAC system has to run. It’s the perfect tool to simplify how you use your comfort system. If you’re thinking about investing in a smart thermostat, there are different ways you can reduce your costs, effectively 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.