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

If you’re preparing to take a vacation, your feelings might drift to packing your suitcase and ensuring all your travel arrangements are in order. But remember to prepare the house for you being gone as well.

One typical question people have is this: What should I set my thermostat to while I'm on vacation? Your intention will often be to save money, but don’t be tempted to completely turn off your HVAC system. The furnace or air conditioner still needs to run a little to minimize excessive heat or cold, depending on the season. Here’s what you need to consider about setting your thermostat when you are gone on vacation.

Adjusting the Thermostat for a Summer Vacation

If you’re traveling at the pinnacle of summer, you can generally expect the temperature inside your house to increase as it gets hotter outside each day. Without air conditioning, the temperature can rapidly top 90 degrees inside—not good news if you’re stressed about delicate belongings.

A good guideline is to increase the thermostat 5 to 10 degrees warmer than you typically do throughout the day without going over 85 degrees. This is a great compromise between reducing energy and protecting everything inside your home.

If you have a programmable or Wi-Fi thermostat, keep in mind that a “temporary” hold will resume your typical schedule at the next programmed time. So you have to try the “permanent” or “vacation” hold setting when you're on vacation to ensure your chosen temperature sticks.

Preparing the Thermostat for a Winter Vacation

To decide the perfect thermostat setting when taking a trip in the winter, implement the same method proposed above, but in reverse—that is, set the temperature 5 to 10 degrees lower than you usually do over the course of the day without dropping under 60 degrees.

The biggest reason to keep your home warm while you’re away is to prevent frozen pipes. Any plumbing that runs near exterior walls and in unconditioned spaces is the most at risk. Maintaining the temperature at 60 degrees or up limits this risk. Another great idea is to have the cupboard doors open to help warm air circulate around the pipes underneath your kitchen and bathroom sinks. You might also want to turn off the water at the primary shut-off valve to prevent a plumbing crisis while you’re away.

Preparing a Smart Thermostat Before Going on Vacation

If you don’t already own a Wi-Fi or “smart” thermostat, this can be a wonderful time to upgrade. The latest improvements in thermostat technology offer outstanding benefits, both while you’re at home and on a trip.

For example, you can check on the temperature remotely via your tablet or smartphone. Verify how often the AC or furnace has been running in your absence as it sustains the temperature you chose before you left. If you’re unhappy with what you find, you can control the thermostat from anywhere using 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 more peace of mind, Wi-Fi thermostats alert you of unexpected environmental variations, including a higher-than-expected temperature or excessive moisture while you’re gone.

Additional 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 may be sensitive to high or low temperatures.
  • If you’re leaving pets at home or have planned to have a house sitter visit, you might want to leave the temperature close to normal—such as 80 degrees in the summer and 65 degrees in the winter—so the conditions are comfortable enough for them.
  • Close the blinds and curtains to help keep the hot sun or cold winter air away from your home. This is also a privacy measure that prevents prying eyes from peering inside while you’re absent.
  • Schedule HVAC maintenance before you go to make sure your system runs properly and is unlikely to suffer from any trouble while you’re gone.

Contact Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning

Whether you need to address thermostat-related questions or are wanting to request HVAC maintenance before your upcoming 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 to make the most of its features. Our services include all your HVAC requirements, from maintenance and repair to installation and replacement. Contact us today to share questions or set up a visit from one of our experienced heating and cooling technicians.

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