From a tropical vacation or a lengthy trip for work, traveling means making plans for your heating and cooling system. You don't need it as long as you’re not home, so you can adjust it as needed to limit your energy use. At the same time, you shouldn't just turn it off for the entire duration of your trip.

In general, it’s best to leave your HVAC system on and adjust the temperature depending on whether it's winter or summer. That way you can reduce energy costs without having to worry about getting back to an uncomfortable home. We’ll review why you should avoid turning your HVAC system off as well as the most energy-efficient thermostat settings for summer and winter.

Here’s Why You Shouldn’t Leave Your Thermostat Alone

While you could be wanting to turn your HVAC system off before a trip, this could end up causing costly problems by the time you return. This is notably true if the weather will be severely hot or cold while you’re away from home.

For instance, turning the HVAC system down in the summer will sometimes produce very high humidity. Not only will your home feel like a swamp when you return, but it could have also stimulated mold/mildew growth or pest infestations.

And in the winter, not using the furnace will sometimes lead to pipes freezing up or even bursting. It’s an awful feeling to return home from a nice trip only to find considerable water damage nearby a broken pipe.

Ideal Thermostat Settings While at Work

You can optimize the temperature even if you’re coming and going to work. Since you’re not home for around 8 hours or so, it doesn’t seem sensible to keep an empty home at the same temperature you’d usually have. In general, it’s suggested to raise 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 out.

But you could save even more if you try further adjustments to the temperature. According to the Department of Energy, you could save about 10% on your HVAC costs by raising the temperature by about 7-10 degrees.

Ideal Thermostat Settings While on Vacation in Summer

If you leave for an extended trip in the heart of summer, you can make larger adjustments. This ensures you don’t waste energy while still defending your home from the hassles that come with leaving it uncooled. Something like 5 degrees is appropriate for brief trips while a larger adjustment of 10 degrees is worthwhile if you’ll be gone for 2 weeks or more. If you prefer keeping the house at 72 in the summer, 78-82 can offer the best results.

Recommended Thermostat Settings While on Vacation in Winter

To try and find 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 common winter thermostat setting, so turning it down to 63-58 will prevent ice from forming on pipes while restricting how frequently your furnace operates.

A Smart Thermostat Can Help: Advantages of Smart Thermostat Installation

A great way to manage your home’s HVAC system while out of the house is using a smart thermostat. This special type of programmable thermostat employs intelligent software to track your preferred comfort habits. It applies these preferences and makes automatic changes to the schedule for maximum energy efficiency. And with Wi-Fi compatibility, you can remotely control your heating and cooling from a smartphone or tablet.

Smart thermostats are stuffed with features to help you save energy and lower costs. For example, specific models can monitor electricity prices to boost heating or cooling when prices are lower. They can also work with high-efficiency, variable-speed equipment to optimize how long your HVAC system should run. It’s the perfect tool to streamline how you use your comfort system. If you’re thinking about investing in a smart thermostat, there are multiple ways you can lower your costs, in essence getting a smart thermostat for free. The next time you are away from home, you can receive true peace of mind that your HVAC system won’t cause any trouble while you’re gone.