From a much-needed vacation or a lengthy trip for work, leaving home means making preparations for your HVAC system. You don't need it if you’re on a trip, so you can make adjustments as appropriate to limit your energy use. At the same time, you don’t want to just turn it off for the entire time you're gone.

In general, it’s better to leave your HVAC system going and just raise or lower depending on whether it's winter or summer. That way you can reduce energy costs without worrying about coming back to an uncomfortable home. We’ll review why you shouldn’t turn your HVAC system off as well as the ideal thermostat settings for different times of year.

Here’s Why You Avoid Leaving Your Thermostat on Hold

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

As an example, turning the HVAC system down in the summer can lead to very high humidity. Not only will your home feel gross when you have returned, but it might have also invited mold/mildew growth or pest infestations.

And during the winter, leaving the furnace off will sometimes lead to pipes freezing up or even bursting. It’s an awful feeling to come home from a vacation only to find substantial water damage nearby a broken pipe.

Energy-Efficient Thermostat Settings While at Work

You can adjust the temperature even as you come and go to work. Considering you’re not home for 8 hours or more, it doesn’t make sense to keep an empty home at the same temperature you’d usually have. In general, it’s recommended to turn up the thermostat by 5 degrees or so. That means that if you prefer a comfortable 72 degrees, think about increasing it to 76-77 while you’re out.

But you could save even more if you’re willing to further adjust the temperature. According to the Department of Energy, you could save about 10% on your HVAC expenses by increasing the adjustment to 7-10 degrees.

Best Thermostat Settings While on Vacation in Summer

If you're on a lengthier trip in the middle of summer, you can make more significant adjustments. This prevents wasting energy while still defending your home from the hassles that come with leaving it without air conditioning. Something like 5 degrees is suitable for shorter trips while closer to 10 degrees is worthwhile 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 should offer great results.

Recommended Thermostat Settings While On a Trip in Winter

To try and find the ideal thermostat setting for a winter getaway, simply lower it by the same amount you would increase it in summer. 68 is a frequent winter thermostat setting, so lowering it to 63-58 will prevent ice from forming on pipes while limiting how frequently your furnace runs.

Smart Thermostats Are Even Better: Perks of a Smart Thermostat

One of the best ways to regulate your home’s HVAC system while out of the house is by investing in a smart thermostat. This special type of programmable thermostat utilizes intelligent software to understand your usual comfort habits. It gradually understands these preferences and makes automatic corrections to the schedule for higher energy efficiency. And with Wi-Fi integration, you can remotely adjust your HVAC system from a smart device like a phone or tablet.

Smart thermostats are loaded with features to help you save on your energy bill. To provide an example, some models can monitor electricity prices to bolster heating or cooling when prices are lowest. They can also work with high-efficiency, variable-speed equipment to optimize how long your HVAC system has to run. It’s the optimal tool to enhance 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 receive true peace of mind that your HVAC system won’t cause any trouble while you’re away.