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

If you’re getting ready to leave for vacation, your thoughts might go toward packing your suitcase and ensuring any travel arrangements are ready to go. But you'll also want to prepare the house for you being gone as well.

One common question people share is this: What will I need to adjust my thermostat to while on vacation? Your intention will often be to reduce costs, but you'll still want to avoid turning off your HVAC system. The furnace or AC unit should still run a little to prevent excessive heat or cold, depending on the season. Here’s what you should know about setting your thermostat when you leave on vacation.

Preparing the Thermostat for a Summer Vacation

If you’re taking a trip at the height of summer, you can expect the temperature inside your house to increase as it gets hotter outside each day. Without air conditioning, the temperature could easily exceed 90 degrees inside—not good news if you’re stressed about fragile items.

A good rule of thumb is to increase the thermostat 5 to 10 degrees warmer than you ordinarily do throughout the day without going over 85 degrees. This is a great compromise between reducing energy and protecting the interior of your home.

If you own a programmable or Wi-Fi thermostat, keep in mind that a “temporary” hold is supposed to return to your standard schedule at the next programmed time. So you should use the “permanent” or “vacation” hold setting when going on vacation to make sure your chosen temperature sticks.

Adjusting the Thermostat for a Winter Vacation

To determine the perfect thermostat setting when on vacation in the winter, follow the same method proposed above, but in reverse—that is, set the temperature 5 to 10 degrees colder than you generally do throughout the day without falling lower than 60 degrees.

The most important reason to keep your home warm while you’re out of town is to prevent frozen pipes. Your plumbing that runs along exterior walls and through unconditioned spaces is exposed to freezing. Keeping the temperature at 60 degrees or up reduces this risk. Another smart idea is to have the cupboard doors open to help warm air flow around the pipes under 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.

Adjusting a Smart Thermostat Before Leaving for Vacation

If you don’t already have a Wi-Fi or “smart” thermostat, this can be an ideal time to upgrade. The latest improvements in thermostat technology provide excellent benefits, both while you’re at home and on vacation.

For instance, you can check on the temperature remotely with your tablet or smartphone. Determine how regularly the AC or furnace has been running in your absence as it maintains the temperature you set before you left. If you’re not happy with what you find, you can control the thermostat from wherever with your internet-enabled device. You can even set a comfortable temperature to resume when you’re about an hour away from home.

For even better peace of mind, Wi-Fi thermostats notify you of unforeseen environmental changes, such as a higher-than-expected temperature or increased moisture while you’re out of the house.

More Vacation Recommendations

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

  • Don't forget about any delicate paintings, electronics or houseplants that are vulnerable to high or low temperatures.
  • If you’re leaving pets at home or have planned to have a house sitter stop by, you may want to leave the temperature closer to normal—such as 80 degrees in the summer and 65 degrees in the winter—so the environment is comfortable enough for them.
  • Shut your blinds and drapes to help keep the hot sun or cold winter air away from your home. This also helps with privacy since it prevents prying eyes from peering inside while you’re away from home.
  • Schedule HVAC maintenance before you head out to ensure your system works properly and is unlikely to suffer from any trouble while you’re gone.

Contact Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning

Whether you want to ask thermostat-related questions or are looking to arrange for HVAC maintenance before your upcoming vacation, the HVAC pros 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 teach you how to make the most of its features. Our services encompass all your HVAC goals, from maintenance and repair to installation and replacement. Get in touch with us today to ask questions or schedule a visit from one of our qualified heating and cooling technicians.