Between a tropical vacation or a long trip for work, leaving home means making plans for your heating and cooling system. You can't use it if you’re not home, so you can make adjustments as needed to conserve your energy use. At the same time, you don’t want to just leave it off for the entire time you're out of the house.

For the most part, it’s ideal to leave your HVAC system running and just make adjustments depending on whether it's winter or summer. That way you can lower energy costs without worrying about coming back to an uncomfortable home. We’ll review why you should leave your HVAC system on as well as the best thermostat settings for various times of year.

This Is Why You Don't Leave Your Thermostat on Hold

While you might be tempted to leave your HVAC system off before a trip, this can end up stirring up 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.

As an example, shutting the HVAC system down during the summer will sometimes lead to very high humidity. Not only will your home feel gross when you have returned, but it could have also stimulated mold/mildew growth or pest infestations.

And in the winter, letting your house get cold can lead to pipes freezing or even bursting. It’s never fun to come home from a nice trip only to come across extensive water damage close to 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 out of the house for around 8 hours or so, it doesn’t make sense to keep an empty home at the same temperature you’d usually have. As a general rule, it’s suggested to raise the thermostat by 5 degrees or so. That means that if you prefer a comfortable 72 degrees, try raising it to 76-77 while you’re at work.

But you could save even more if you're open to further adjusting the temperature. As stated by the Department of Energy, you may save around 10% on your HVAC costs by increasing the adjustment to 7-10 degrees.

Best Thermostat Settings While Away from Home in Summer

If you leave for an extended trip in the hottest part of summer, you can make larger adjustments. This ensures you don’t waste energy while still protecting your home from the problems that come with leaving it un-air conditioned. About 5 degrees is recommended for shorter trips while a larger adjustment of 10 degrees is ideal if you’ll be gone for 2 weeks or more. If you like keeping the house at 72 in the summer, 78-82 can offer great results.

Recommended Thermostat Settings While On a Trip in Winter

To figure out the best thermostat setting for a winter vacation, 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 protect your plumbing while restricting how often your furnace operates.

Smart Thermostats Are Even Better: Perks of Smart Thermostat Installation

One of the best ways to manage your home’s HVAC system while out of the house is using a smart thermostat. This advanced type of programmable thermostat uses intelligent software to track your usual comfort habits. It gradually understands these preferences and makes automatic adjustments to the schedule for maximum energy efficiency. And with Wi-Fi compatibility, you can remotely control your HVAC system from a mobile device or tablet.

Smart thermostats are loaded with features to help you save even more. For example, some models can track electricity prices to bolster heating or cooling when prices are lowest. They can also work with high-efficiency, variable-speed equipment to fine-tune how long your HVAC system should run. It’s the perfect tool to enhance how you control your comfort system. If you’re thinking about investing in a smart thermostat, there are a variety of 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.