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

If you’re planning to leave for vacation, your mind might lean toward packing your suitcase and ensuring all travel arrangements are in order. But don’t forget to prepare the house for your time away as well.

One common question people have is this: What can I set my thermostat to while on vacation? Your hope will often be to conserve energy, but you'll still want to avoid turning 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 know about setting your thermostat when you leave for vacation.

Adjusting the Thermostat for a Summer Vacation

If you’re traveling at the height of summer, you can expect the temperature inside your house to go up as it gets hotter and hotter outside each day. If you don't have air conditioning, the temperature can quickly top 90 degrees inside—not exciting news if you’re concerned about fragile items.

A good guideline is to increase the thermostat 5 to 10 degrees higher than you usually do over the course of the day without going over 85 degrees. This is the perfect compromise between conserving energy and protecting your home’s interior.

If you prefer a programmable or Wi-Fi thermostat, don't forget that a “temporary” hold should continue your regular schedule at the next programmed time. So you have to select the “permanent” or “vacation” hold setting when going on vacation to see to it that your chosen temperature sticks.

Setting the Thermostat for a Winter Vacation

To figure out the best thermostat setting when on vacation in the winter, implement the same means suggested above, but in the opposite direction—that is, adjust' the temperature 5 to 10 degrees colder than you generally do over the course of the day without slipping lower than 60 degrees.

The most important reason to heat your home while you’re on vacation is to minimize the risk of frozen pipes. The plumbing that runs alongside exterior walls and in unheated spaces is the most at risk. Keeping the temperature at 60 degrees or higher decreases this risk. Another great idea is to leave the cupboard doors open to help warm air circulate around the pipes underneath your kitchen and bathroom sinks. You will also want to shut off the water at the primary shut-off valve to prevent a plumbing crisis while you’re away.

Preparing a Smart Thermostat Before Taking a Vacation

If you don’t already own a Wi-Fi or “smart” thermostat, this could be a wonderful time to upgrade. The latest advancements in thermostat systems 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. Determine how regularly the AC or furnace has been active in your absence as it sustains the temperature you set before you left. If you’re not happy with what you discover, you can change the thermostat from anywhere with your internet-enabled device. You can even set a comfortable temperature that can resume when you’re just about an hour away from home.

For even greater peace of mind, Wi-Fi thermostats alert you of unexpected environmental changes, including a higher-than-expected temperature or excessive moisture while you’re away from home.

Other Vacation Recommendations

Keep these components in mind to make sure your home is good to go before departing on your trip:

  • Consider any delicate paintings, electronics or houseplants that are susceptible to extreme temperatures.
  • If you’re leaving pets at home or have arranged to have a house sitter come by, you might want to leave the temperature closer to normal—such as 80 degrees in the summer and 65 degrees in the winter—so the home is comfortable enough for them.
  • Shut any window treatments to help keep the hot sun or cold winter air away from your home. This also helps with privacy since it keeps prying eyes from peering inside while you’re gone.
  • Arrange for HVAC maintenance before you head out to make sure your system operates efficiently and is unlikely to experience any issues 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 upcoming vacation, the HVAC experts at Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning are here to help. We can point you to a new thermostat for your needs and even install it and show you how to make the most of its features. Our services encompass all your HVAC requirements, from maintenance and repair to installation and replacement. Call us today to share questions or request a visit from one of our qualified heating and cooling technicians.

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