Between a relaxing vacation or a long trip for work, traveling means making plans for your HVAC system. You don't need it while you’re not home, so you can adjust it as needed to limit your energy use. At the same time, 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 on and just make adjustments 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 shouldn’t turn your HVAC system off 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 inclined to turn your HVAC system off before a trip, this will sometimes end up causing annoying problems by the time you get back. This is particularly true if the weather will be severely hot or cold while you’re away from home.

As an example, turning the HVAC system down in the summer will sometimes cause very high humidity. Not only will your home feel like a swamp when you return, but it may have also encouraged mold/mildew growth or pest infestations.

And during the winter, leaving the furnace off might lead to pipes freezing or even bursting. It’s exhausting 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 away for about 8 hours or longer, it doesn’t help your monthly energy bill to keep an empty home at the same temperature you’d usually have. As a general rule, it’s recommended to turn up the thermostat by 5 degrees or more. 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 try further adjustments to the temperature. According to the Department of Energy, you may save nearly 10% on your HVAC costs by increasing the adjustment to 7-10 degrees.

Best Thermostat Settings While on a Trip in Summer

If you leave for an extended trip in the middle of summer, you can make larger adjustments. This prevents wasting energy while still safeguarding your home from the hassles 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 like keeping the house at 72 in the summer, 78-82 can offer great results.

Best Thermostat Settings While on Vacation in Winter

To determine the best thermostat setting for a winter getaway, consider lowering the temperature by the same amount you would adjust it in summer. 68 is a common winter thermostat setting, so lowering it to 63-58 will prevent ice from forming on pipes while limiting how frequently 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 using a smart thermostat. This innovative type of programmable thermostat uses intelligent software to monitor your preferred comfort habits. It gradually understands these preferences and makes automatic adjustments to the schedule for better energy efficiency. And with Wi-Fi compatibility, you can remotely access your heating and cooling with a mobile device or tablet.

Smart thermostats are stuffed with features to help you save even more. For instance, some models can monitor electricity prices to bolster heating or cooling when prices are lowest. They are compatible with high-efficiency, variable-speed equipment to refine how long your HVAC system needs to run. It’s the perfect tool to streamline how you control your comfort system. If you’re planning on investing in a smart thermostat, there are a variety of ways you can reduce your costs, essentially 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.