Between a relaxing vacation or an extended trip for work, traveling means making plans for your home comfort system. You won’t be using it if you’re not home, so you can make adjustments as appropriate to conserve 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 better to leave your HVAC system on and just raise or lower depending on the season. That way you can reduce energy costs without having to worry about coming back to an uncomfortable home. We’ll explain why you should avoid turning your HVAC system off as well as the ideal thermostat settings for summer and winter.

Here’s Why You Avoid Leaving Your Thermostat Alone

While you might be wanting to turn your HVAC system off before a trip, this could end up stirring up annoying problems by the time you return. This is especially true in case the weather will be severely hot or cold while you’re out of town.

For 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 invited mold/mildew growth or pest infestations.

And during the winter, leaving the furnace off will sometimes lead to pipes freezing up or even bursting. It’s an awful feeling to get home from a nice trip only to come across substantial 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. Since you’re not home for 8 hours or more, it doesn’t seem sensible to keep an empty home the same temperature as when you're home. Generally, it’s recommended to raise the thermostat by 5 degrees or so. That means that if you prefer a comfortable 72 degrees, try raising it to 76-77 while you’re at work.

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

Best Thermostat Settings While Away from Home in Summer

If you’re leaving for an extended trip in the hottest part 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. Around 5 degrees is suitable for shorter trips while around 10 degrees is best if you’ll be away from home for 2 weeks or more. If you enjoy keeping the house at 72 in the summer, 78-82 can offer beneficial results.

Recommended Thermostat Settings While Away from Home in Winter

To figure out the ideal thermostat setting for a winter vacation, consider lowering the temperature by the same amount you would adjust it in summer. 68 is a common winter thermostat setting, so turning it down to 63-58 will prevent ice from forming on pipes while restricting how often your furnace runs.

Smart Thermostats Are Even Better: Advantages of a Smart Thermostat

An ideal strategy 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 learns these preferences and makes automatic changes to the schedule for better energy efficiency. And with Wi-Fi integration, you can remotely control your HVAC system with a smartphone or tablet.

Smart thermostats are stuffed with features to help you save even more. To provide an example, specific models can track electricity prices to boost heating or cooling when prices are lower. They can be used with high-efficiency, variable-speed equipment to refine how long your HVAC system should run. It’s the optimal tool to simplify how you use your comfort system. If you’re planning on investing in a smart thermostat, there are different ways you can lower your costs, essentially 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 stir up any trouble while you’re away.