What to Set Your Thermostat to When Away

October 18, 2022

Between a relaxing vacation or a long trip for work, leaving home means making plans for your home comfort system. You don't need it as long as you’re away, so you can make adjustments as necessary to limit your energy use. At the same time, you don’t want to just turn it off for the entire time you're gone.

For the most part, it’s best to leave your HVAC system running and just make adjustments depending on the time of year. That way you can minimize energy costs without stressing about coming back to an uncomfortable home. We’ll walk you through why you should leave your HVAC system on as well as the most energy-efficient thermostat settings for various times of year.

Here’s Why You Don't Leave Your Thermostat on Hold

While you may be wanting to leave your HVAC system off before a trip, this can end up causing annoying problems by the time you return. This is notably true when the weather will be severely hot or cold while you’re gone.

As an example, turning the HVAC system down in the summer will sometimes lead to very high humidity. Not only will your home feel muggy and uncomfortable when you return, but it might have also invited mold/mildew growth or pest infestations.

And during the winter, leaving the furnace off might lead to pipes freezing up or even bursting. It’s exhausting to get home from a nice trip only to find substantial water damage nearby a broken pipe.

Energy-Efficient Thermostat Settings While at Work

You can adjust the temperature even as you come and go to work. Because you’re out of the house 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 adjust the thermostat by 5 degrees or so. That means that if you prefer a comfortable 72 degrees, consider raising it to 76-77 while you’re out.

But you may save even more if you’re willing to further adjust the temperature. As stated by the Department of Energy, you could save around 10% on your HVAC spending by raising the temperature by about 7-10 degrees.

Energy-Efficient Thermostat Settings While on Vacation in Summer

If you're on a lengthier trip in the middle of summer, you can make bigger adjustments. This prevents wasting energy while still defending your home from the problems that come with leaving it un-air conditioned. Something like 5 degrees is recommended for short trips while around 10 degrees is worthwhile if you’ll be gone for 2 weeks or longer. If you like keeping the house at 72 in the summer, 78-82 can offer great results.

Recommended Thermostat Settings While Away from Home in Winter

To determine the best thermostat setting for a winter getaway, simply lower it by the same amount you would adjust it in summer. 68 is a common winter thermostat setting, so lowering it to 63-58 will protect your plumbing while limiting how long your furnace operates.

A Smart Thermostat Can Help: Perks of a Smart Thermostat

One of the best ways to optimize your home’s HVAC system while away is using a smart thermostat. This advanced type of programmable thermostat utilizes intelligent software to monitor your typical comfort habits. It applies these preferences and makes automatic changes to the schedule for better energy efficiency. And with Wi-Fi connectivity, you can remotely control your heating and cooling using a smart device like a phone or tablet.

Smart thermostats are loaded with features to help you save even more. For example, specific 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 fine-tune how long your HVAC system should run. It’s the perfect tool to enhance how you control your comfort system. If you’re planning on investing in a smart thermostat, there are a variety of ways you can bring down your costs, effectively getting a smart thermostat for free. The next time you are away from home, you can appreciate true peace of mind that your HVAC system won’t stir up any trouble while you’re away.