What Should I Set My Thermostat to When I'm on Vacation?

If you’re preparing to leave for vacation, your thoughts might lean toward packing your suitcase and seeing to it that all travel arrangements are in order. But you'll also want to prepare the house for your time away as well.

One frequent question people ask is this: What should I adjust my thermostat to while I'm gone? Your goal will often be to reduce costs, but don’t be tempted to completely turn off your HVAC system. The furnace or air conditioner still needs to run a little to avoid severe heat or cold, depending on the season. Here’s what you have to consider about setting your thermostat when you leave for vacation.

Preparing the Thermostat for a Summer Vacation

If you’re on vacation at the height of summer, you can expect the temperature inside your house to increase as it gets warmer outside each day. Without air conditioning, the temperature may easily top 90 degrees inside—not exciting news if you’re stressed about delicate items.

A good suggestion is to increase the thermostat 5 to 10 degrees higher than you usually do throughout the day without reaching above 85 degrees. This is an ideal compromise between conserving energy and protecting your home’s interior.

If you prefer a programmable or Wi-Fi thermostat, remember that a “temporary” hold is supposed to return to your regular schedule at the next programmed time. So you have to use the “permanent” or “vacation” hold setting when going out of town to make sure your chosen temperature sticks.

Preparing the Thermostat for a Winter Vacation

To determine the ideal thermostat setting when traveling in the winter, use the same technique recommended above, but in the opposite direction—that is, set the temperature 5 to 10 degrees cooler than you usually do over the course of the day without falling under 60 degrees.

The most significant reason to keep your home warm while you’re on vacation is to prevent frozen pipes. The plumbing that runs against exterior walls and through unfinished spaces is the most at risk. Holding the temperature at 60 degrees or higher reduces this risk. Another great idea is to keep the cupboard doors open to help warm air circulate around the pipes underneath the kitchen and bathroom sinks. You might also want to shut off the water at the central shut-off valve to protect against a plumbing crisis while you’re gone.

Setting a Smart Thermostat Before Taking a Vacation

If you don’t already own a Wi-Fi or “smart” thermostat, this can be an ideal time to upgrade. The latest upgrades in thermostat systems provide outstanding benefits, both while you’re at home and away.

As an example, you can follow up on the temperature remotely via your tablet or smartphone. Figure out how often the AC or furnace has been running in your absence as it holds the temperature you decided on before you left. If you’re unsatisfied with what you see, you can change the thermostat from wherever via your internet-enabled device. You can even set a comfortable temperature that will resume when you’re just about an hour away from home.

For even better peace of mind, Wi-Fi thermostats alert you of unexpected environmental variations, including a higher-than-expected temperature or excess moisture while you’re gone.

More Vacation Recommendations

Keep these things in mind to ensure your home is good to go before departing on your trip:

  • Don't forget about any delicate paintings, electronics or houseplants that are vulnerable to extreme temperatures.
  • If you’re leaving pets at home or have decided to have a house sitter stop by, you may want to leave the temperature about normal—such as 80 degrees in the summer and 65 degrees in the winter—so the environment is comfortable enough for them.
  • Close the blinds and curtains to help keep the hot sun or cold winter air out of your home. This is also a good idea if you want privacy because it stops prying eyes from taking a look inside while you’re away from home.
  • Request HVAC maintenance before you go to make sure your system works correctly and is unlikely to suffer from any trouble while you’re away.

Get in Touch with Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning

Whether you want to ask thermostat-related questions or are hoping to arrange for HVAC maintenance before your next vacation, the HVAC pros at Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning are here to assist. We can point you to a new thermostat for your needs and even install it and teach you how it works. Our services include all your HVAC preferences, from maintenance and repair to installation and replacement. Call us today to raise questions or request a visit from one of our qualified heating and cooling technicians.

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