Whether it’s a much-needed vacation or a long trip for work, leaving home means making plans for your home comfort system. You can't use it as long as you’re away, so you can make adjustments as appropriate to limit your energy use. At the same time, you shouldn't just turn it off for the entire time you're gone.

Instead, it’s better 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 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 Avoid Leaving Your Thermostat on Hold

While you could be tempted to turn your HVAC system off before a trip, this can end up stirring up big problems by the time you come back. This is especially true when the weather will be severely hot or cold while you’re out of town.

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

And in the winter, not using the furnace might lead to pipes freezing up or even bursting. It’s never fun to get home from a long trip only to find substantial water damage nearby a broken pipe.

Best Thermostat Settings While at Work

You can adjust the temperature even when you're just going to work. Considering you’re not home for about 8 hours or longer, it doesn’t help your monthly energy bill to keep an empty home the same temperature as when you're home. As a general rule, it’s suggested to turn up the thermostat by 5 degrees or more. That means that if you prefer a comfortable 72 degrees, think about adjusting it to 76-77 while you’re out.

But you can save even more if you try further adjustments to the temperature. As stated by the Department of Energy, you might save about 10% on your HVAC costs by increasing the adjustment to 7-10 degrees.

Energy-Efficient Thermostat Settings While Away from Home in Summer

If you leave for an extended trip in the hottest part of summer, you can make bigger adjustments. This prevents wasting energy while still defending your home from the problems that come with leaving it uncooled. About 5 degrees is appropriate for short trips while around 10 degrees is best if you’ll be out of town for 2 weeks or more. If you prefer keeping the house at 72 in the summer, 78-82 should offer beneficial results.

Recommended Thermostat Settings While Away from Home in Winter

To try and find the ideal thermostat setting for a winter trip, just lower 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 protect your plumbing while limiting how long your furnace operates.

Smart Thermostats Are Even Better: Perks of a Smart Thermostat

A great way to regulate your home’s HVAC system while away from home is by investing in a smart thermostat. This innovative type of programmable thermostat uses intelligent software to track your usual comfort habits. It gradually understands these preferences and makes automatic corrections to the schedule for better energy efficiency. And with Wi-Fi integration, you can remotely adjust your HVAC system with a smartphone or tablet.

Smart thermostats are packed with features to help you save on your energy bill. For example, some models can track electricity prices to increase heating or cooling when prices are lower. They can also work with high-efficiency, variable-speed equipment to refine how long your HVAC system should run. It’s the optimal tool to enhance 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, effectively getting a smart thermostat for free. The next time you are away from home, you can enjoy true peace of mind that your HVAC system won’t stir up any trouble while you’re gone.