From a much-needed vacation or an extended trip for work, traveling means making plans for your HVAC system. You can't use it if you’re not home, so you can adjust it as appropriate to minimize your energy use. At the same time, you shouldn't just turn it off for the entire time you're gone.

In general, it’s ideal to leave your HVAC system on and adjust the temperature depending on the time of year. That way you can reduce energy costs without stressing about coming back to an uncomfortable home. We’ll review why you should avoid turning your HVAC system off as well as the most energy-efficient thermostat settings for summer and winter.

This Is Why You Avoid Leaving Your Thermostat Alone

While you might be tempted to turn your HVAC system off before a trip, this can end up stirring up big problems by the time you return. This is particularly true if the weather will be severely hot or cold while you’re away from home.

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

And in the winter, leaving the furnace off can lead to pipes icing over or even bursting. It’s never fun to get home from a vacation only to discover considerable water damage close to a broken pipe.

Energy-Efficient Thermostat Settings While at Work

You can optimize the temperature even as you come and go to work. Since you’re not home for around 8 hours or so, it doesn’t seem sensible to keep an empty home the same temperature as when you're home. As a general rule, it’s recommended to raise the thermostat by 5 degrees or so. Meaning that if you prefer a comfortable 72 degrees, try raising it to 76-77 while you’re gone.

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 about 10% on your HVAC expenses by making an adjustment of 7-10 degrees.

Best Thermostat Settings While on a Trip in Summer

If you’re leaving for an extended trip in the heart of summer, you can make bigger adjustments. This ensures you don’t waste energy while still protecting your home from the issues that come with leaving it without air conditioning. About 5 degrees is appropriate for short trips while a larger adjustment of 10 degrees is best if you’ll be out of town for 2 weeks or longer. If you prefer keeping the house at 72 in the summer, 78-82 can offer the best results.

Best Thermostat Settings While On a Trip in Winter

To determine the most energy-efficient thermostat setting for a winter trip, 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 prevent ice from forming on pipes while restricting how often your furnace runs.

A Smart Thermostat Can Help: Advantages of Smart Thermostat Installation

One of the best ways to optimize your home’s HVAC system while out of the house is with a smart thermostat. This advanced type of programmable thermostat employs intelligent software to understand your usual comfort habits. It applies these preferences and makes automatic changes to the schedule for better energy efficiency. And with Wi-Fi integration, you can remotely control your heating and cooling with a mobile device or tablet.

Smart thermostats are packed with features to help you save even more. For example, some models can track electricity prices to increase 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 needs to run. It’s the optimal tool to simplify how you control your comfort system. If you’re thinking about investing in a smart thermostat, there are multiple ways you can bring down your costs, in essence getting a smart thermostat for free. The next time you leave for vacation, you can receive true peace of mind that your HVAC system won’t cause any trouble while you’re away from home.