From a tropical vacation or a long trip for work, leaving home means making preparations for your home comfort system. You don't need it while you’re not home, so you can adjust the temperature as needed to minimize your energy use. Simultaneously, you don’t want to just turn it off for the entire time you're gone.

For the most part, it’s best to leave your HVAC system on and just make adjustments depending on the season. That way you can lower energy costs without worrying about returning to an uncomfortable home. We’ll explain 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 on Hold

While you may be tempted to turn your HVAC system off before a trip, this will sometimes end up causing annoying problems by the time you return. This is especially true when the weather will be severely hot or cold while you’re gone.

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

And over the winter, not using the furnace can lead to pipes freezing or even bursting. It’s exhausting to come home from a long trip only to find considerable water damage near a broken pipe.

Ideal Thermostat Settings While at Work

You can adjust the temperature even as you come and go to work. Because you’re away for about 8 hours or longer, it doesn’t make sense to keep an empty home heated or cooled as if you were there. Generally, it’s encouraged to adjust the thermostat by 5 degrees or more. That means that if you prefer a comfortable 72 degrees, think about increasing it to 76-77 while you’re at work.

But you can save even more if you try further adjustments to the temperature. As stated by the Department of Energy, you could save nearly 10% on your HVAC expenses by raising the temperature by about 7-10 degrees.

Ideal Thermostat Settings While on a Trip 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 protecting your home from the hassles that come with leaving it un-air conditioned. Something like 5 degrees is appropriate for short trips while a larger adjustment of 10 degrees is best 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 will offer the best results.

Ideal Thermostat Settings While Away from Home in Winter

To figure out the ideal thermostat setting for a winter trip, simply lower it by the same amount you would increase it in summer. 68 is a popular winter thermostat setting, so turning it down to 63-58 will prevent ice from forming on pipes while restricting how often your furnace operates.

A Smart Thermostat Can Help: Perks of a Smart Thermostat

An ideal strategy to optimize your home’s HVAC system while away is with a smart thermostat. This innovative type of programmable thermostat employs intelligent software to track your typical comfort habits. It learns these preferences and makes automatic corrections to the schedule for better energy efficiency. And with Wi-Fi compatibility, you can remotely control your heating and cooling using a smartphone or tablet.

Smart thermostats are stuffed with features to help you save energy and lower costs. For instance, some models can monitor electricity prices to bolster heating or cooling when prices are lower. They can be used with high-efficiency, variable-speed equipment to optimize how long your HVAC system needs to run. It’s the optimal tool to enhance how you control your comfort system. If you’re considering 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 leave for vacation, you can appreciate true peace of mind that your HVAC system won’t stir up any trouble while you’re away.