Whether it’s a tropical vacation or a lengthy trip for work, traveling means making preparations for your HVAC system. You can't use it while you’re away, so you can adjust it as appropriate to conserve your energy use. Just the same, you don’t want to just turn it off for the entire time you're out of the house.

Instead, it’s best to leave your HVAC system on and adjust the temperature depending on the time of year. That way you can reduce energy costs without worrying about returning to an uncomfortable home. We’ll explain why you shouldn’t turn 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 inclined to shut your HVAC system down before a trip, this can end up leading to annoying problems by the time you get back. This is notably true when the weather will be severely hot or cold while you’re out of town.

For example, switching the HVAC system down during the summer can cause very high humidity. Not only will your home feel gross when you return, but it could have also encouraged mold/mildew growth or pest infestations.

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

Best Thermostat Settings While at Work

You can optimize the temperature even when you're just going to work. Since you’re not home for around 8 hours or so, it doesn’t seem sensible to keep an empty home heated or cooled as if you were there. In general, it’s recommended to raise the thermostat by 5 degrees or more. Meaning that if you prefer a comfortable 72 degrees, think about adjusting it to 76-77 while you’re gone.

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

Ideal Thermostat Settings While Away from Home in Summer

If you’re leaving for an extended trip in the heart of summer, you can make bigger adjustments. This prevents wasting energy while still protecting your home from the problems that come with leaving it un-air conditioned. About 5 degrees is appropriate for short trips while a larger adjustment of 10 degrees is ideal 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 a Trip in Winter

To figure out the best 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 lowering it to 63-58 will prevent ice from forming on pipes while restricting how long your furnace runs.

A Smart Thermostat Can Help: Perks of a Smart Thermostat

One of the best ways to optimize your home’s HVAC system while out of the house is by investing in a smart thermostat. This advanced type of programmable thermostat employs intelligent software to monitor your typical comfort habits. It applies these preferences and makes automatic changes to the schedule for better energy efficiency. And with Wi-Fi integration, you can remotely control your heating and cooling from a smartphone or tablet.

Smart thermostats are loaded 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 lowest. They can be used with high-efficiency, variable-speed equipment to refine how long your HVAC system needs to run. It’s the ideal tool to simplify how you control your comfort system. If you’re planning on investing in a smart thermostat, there are different ways you can bring down 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.