Whether it’s a much-needed vacation or an extended trip for work, traveling means making plans for your heating and cooling system. You won’t be using it while you’re not home, so you can make adjustments as appropriate to conserve your energy use. Just the same, you shouldn't just leave it off for the entire time you're gone.

Instead, it’s ideal to leave your HVAC system running and adjust the temperature depending on whether it's winter or summer. That way you can reduce energy costs without worrying about returning to an uncomfortable home. We’ll walk you through why you should leave your HVAC system on as well as the ideal thermostat settings for summer and winter.

Here’s Why You Don't Leave Your Thermostat Alone

While you might be inclined to leave your HVAC system off before a trip, this could end up stirring up annoying problems by the time you return. This is notably true if the weather will be severely hot or cold while you’re out of town.

For example, switching the HVAC system off during the summer can cause very high humidity. Not only will your home feel gross when you come back, but it may have also invited mold/mildew growth or pest infestations.

And during the winter, leaving the furnace off could lead to pipes freezing or even bursting. It’s never fun to return home from a long trip only to find substantial water damage close to a broken pipe.

Ideal Thermostat Settings While at Work

You can optimize the temperature even if you’re coming and going to work. Since you’re out of the house for around 8 hours or so, it doesn’t help your monthly energy bill 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. Meaning that if you prefer a comfortable 72 degrees, think about increasing it to 76-77 while you’re out.

But you may save even more if you try further adjustments to the temperature. According to the Department of Energy, you might save nearly 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 a longer trip in the heart of summer, you can make larger adjustments. This helps you avoid using too much energy while still safeguarding your home from the problems that come with leaving it un-air conditioned. About 5 degrees is suitable for brief trips while closer to 10 degrees is best 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 the best results.

Best Thermostat Settings While On a Trip in Winter

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

A Smart Thermostat Can Help: Advantages of Smart Thermostat Installation

A great way to manage your home’s HVAC system while away is by investing in a smart thermostat. This advanced type of programmable thermostat utilizes intelligent software to understand your usual comfort habits. It applies these preferences and makes automatic corrections to the schedule for maximum energy efficiency. And with Wi-Fi integration, you can remotely control your heating and cooling using a mobile device or tablet.

Smart thermostats are stuffed with features to help you save even more. For example, certain models can observe electricity prices to bolster heating or cooling when prices are more affordable. They are compatible with high-efficiency, variable-speed equipment to optimize how long your HVAC system needs to run. It’s the optimal tool to simplify how you control your comfort system. If you’re planning on investing in a smart thermostat, there are a variety of ways you can bring down 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 gone.