Between a tropical vacation or a long trip for work, taking a trip means making plans for your heating and cooling system. You can't use it if you’re away, so you can make adjustments as appropriate to limit your energy use. Just the same, you shouldn't just shut it down for the entire time you're out of the house.

Instead, it’s best to leave your HVAC system going and just raise or lower depending on whether it's winter or summer. That way you can minimize energy costs without having to worry about returning to an uncomfortable home. We’ll walk you through 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 Shouldn’t Leave Your Thermostat on Hold

While you could be tempted to shut your HVAC system down before a trip, this can end up causing big problems by the time you return. This is particularly true when the weather will be severely hot or cold while you’re gone.

For instance, turning the HVAC system down in the summer could cause very high humidity. Not only will your home feel muggy and uncomfortable when you return, but it may have also stimulated mold/mildew growth or pest infestations.

And over the winter, not using the furnace could lead to pipes freezing up or even bursting. It’s never fun to come home from a vacation only to discover substantial water damage nearby a broken pipe.

Best Thermostat Settings While at Work

You can optimize the temperature even as you come and go to work. Considering 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. As a general rule, it’s encouraged to turn up the thermostat by 5 degrees or so. Meaning that if you prefer a comfortable 72 degrees, think about 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 could save nearly 10% on your HVAC costs by increasing the adjustment to 7-10 degrees.

Ideal Thermostat Settings While Away from Home in Summer

If you're on a lengthier trip in the hottest part of summer, you can make larger adjustments. This prevents wasting energy while still protecting your home from the hassles that come with leaving it uncooled. About 5 degrees is appropriate for shorter trips while closer to 10 degrees is ideal if you’ll be gone for 2 weeks or longer. If you like keeping the house at 72 in the summer, 78-82 can offer beneficial results.

Best Thermostat Settings While On a Trip in Winter

To determine the most energy-efficient thermostat setting for a winter vacation, just lower 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 protect your plumbing while minimizing how often your furnace operates.

A Smart Thermostat Can Help: Benefits of Smart Thermostat Installation

One of the best ways to manage your home’s HVAC system while away is with a smart thermostat. This innovative type of programmable thermostat utilizes intelligent software to monitor your preferred comfort habits. It learns these preferences and makes automatic corrections to the schedule for maximum energy efficiency. And with Wi-Fi compatibility, you can remotely control your HVAC system using a smart device like a phone or tablet.

Smart thermostats are loaded with features to help you save on your energy bill. For example, some models can observe electricity prices to increase heating or cooling when prices are lower. They can also work with high-efficiency, variable-speed equipment to fine-tune how long your HVAC system should run. It’s the optimal tool to simplify how you control your comfort system. If you’re considering investing in a smart thermostat, there are multiple ways you can lower your costs, essentially getting a smart thermostat for free. The next time you are away from home, you can appreciate true peace of mind that your HVAC system won’t stir up any trouble while you’re gone.