From a relaxing vacation or a long trip for work, traveling means making preparations for your heating and cooling system. You won’t be using it if you’re not home, so you can adjust the temperature as appropriate to limit your energy use. Just the same, you shouldn't just leave it off for the entire time you're gone.

For the most part, it’s best to leave your HVAC system running and just raise or lower depending on the season. That way you can reduce energy costs without stressing about getting back to an uncomfortable home. We’ll review why you should avoid turning your HVAC system off as well as the ideal thermostat settings for different times of year.

Here’s Why You Don't Leave Your Thermostat Alone

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

For instance, switching the HVAC system off during the summer will sometimes produce very high humidity. Not only will your home feel like a swamp when you have returned, but it could have also invited mold/mildew growth or pest infestations.

And during the winter, not using the furnace could lead to pipes icing over or even bursting. It’s an awful feeling to come home from a long trip only to find extensive water damage close to a broken pipe.

Ideal Thermostat Settings While at Work

You can optimize the temperature even if you’re coming and going to work. Because you’re out of the house for 8 hours or more, it doesn’t seem sensible to keep an empty home at the same temperature you’d usually have. Generally, it’s encouraged to turn up the thermostat by 5 degrees or more. This means that if you prefer a comfortable 72 degrees, try adjusting it to 76-77 while you’re gone.

But you could 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 costs by raising the temperature by about 7-10 degrees.

Energy-Efficient Thermostat Settings While Away from Home in Summer

If you’re leaving for a lengthier trip in the heart of summer, you can make larger adjustments. This prevents wasting energy while still protecting your home from the issues that come with leaving it uncooled. About 5 degrees is recommended for shorter trips while around 10 degrees is best if you’ll be out of town for 2 weeks or more. If you like keeping the house at 72 in the summer, 78-82 will offer beneficial results.

Ideal Thermostat Settings While on Vacation in Winter

To try and find the ideal thermostat setting for a winter trip, consider lowering the temperature by the same amount you would increase 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 minimizing how often your furnace operates.

A Smart Thermostat Can Help: Perks of a Smart Thermostat

An ideal strategy to regulate your home’s HVAC system while away from home is by investing in a smart thermostat. This advanced type of programmable thermostat utilizes intelligent software to track your preferred comfort habits. It gradually understands these preferences and makes automatic corrections to the schedule for higher energy efficiency. And with Wi-Fi compatibility, you can remotely access your HVAC system from a smart device like a phone or tablet.

Smart thermostats are stuffed with features to help you save on your energy bill. To provide an example, some models can observe electricity prices to boost heating or cooling when prices are lowest. They can also work with high-efficiency, variable-speed equipment to fine-tune how long your HVAC system should run. It’s the ideal tool to simplify how you control your comfort system. If you’re thinking about investing in a smart thermostat, there are different 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 stir up any trouble while you’re away.