man relaxing in a chair at the airport

Whether it’s a much-needed vacation or an extended trip for work, traveling means making plans for your heating and cooling system. You don't need it as long as you’re away, so you can adjust it as necessary to minimize your energy use. Just the same, you don’t want to just shut it down for the entire time you're gone.

In general, it’s better to leave your HVAC system going and adjust the temperature depending on whether it's winter or summer. That way you can lower energy costs without stressing about returning 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 various times of year.

This Is Why You Avoid Leaving Your Thermostat on Hold

While you could be wanting to shut your HVAC system down before a trip, this will sometimes end up causing costly problems by the time you come back. This is particularly true when the weather will be severely hot or cold while you’re out of town.

As an example, turning the HVAC system down during the summer will sometimes lead to very high humidity. Not only will your home feel like a swamp when you have returned, but it might have also stimulated mold/mildew growth or pest infestations.

And over the winter, not using the furnace might lead to pipes freezing or even bursting. It’s an awful feeling to come home from a long trip only to find considerable water damage nearby a broken pipe.

Energy-Efficient Thermostat Settings While at Work

You can make temperature adjustments even when you're just going to work. Because you’re out of the house for around 8 hours or so, it doesn’t help your monthly energy bill to keep an empty home at the same temperature you’d usually have. Generally, it’s suggested to raise the thermostat by 5 degrees or more. Meaning that if you prefer a comfortable 72 degrees, consider raising it to 76-77 while you’re out.

But you could save even more if you're open to further adjusting the temperature. As reported by the Department of Energy, you may save about 10% on your HVAC costs by raising the temperature by about 7-10 degrees.

Energy-Efficient Thermostat Settings While on Vacation in Summer

If you leave for a lengthier trip in the middle of summer, you can make more significant adjustments. This ensures you don’t waste energy while still protecting your home from the problems that come with leaving it without air conditioning. About 5 degrees is suitable for brief trips while around 10 degrees is ideal if you’ll be gone for 2 weeks or longer. If you enjoy keeping the house at 72 in the summer, 78-82 can offer the best results.

Ideal Thermostat Settings While on Vacation in Winter

To figure out the most energy-efficient thermostat setting for a winter trip, consider lowering the temperature by the same amount you would adjust it in summer. 68 is a frequent winter thermostat setting, so lowering it to 63-58 will keep your plumbing safe while limiting how frequently your furnace runs.

Smart Thermostats Are Even Better: Benefits of Smart Thermostat Installation

One of the best ways to regulate your home’s HVAC system while away from home is by investing in a smart thermostat. This special type of programmable thermostat utilizes intelligent software to monitor your preferred comfort habits. It learns these preferences and makes automatic adjustments to the schedule for higher energy efficiency. And with Wi-Fi compatibility, you can remotely access your HVAC system using a smartphone or tablet.

Smart thermostats are packed with features to help you save energy and lower costs. To provide an example, some models can monitor electricity prices to boost heating or cooling when prices are lowest. They can also work 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 use your comfort system. If you’re planning on investing in a smart thermostat, there are a variety of ways you can reduce your costs, in essence getting a smart thermostat for free. The next time you are away from home, you can enjoy true peace of mind that your HVAC system won’t cause any trouble while you’re away from home.