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

If you’re getting ready to take a vacation, your thoughts might lean toward packing your suitcase and seeing to it that all travel arrangements are in order. But don’t forget to prepare the house for you being gone as well.

One frequent question people share is this: What will I need to set my thermostat to while on vacation? Your hope might be to conserve energy, but you'll still want to avoid turning off your HVAC system. The furnace or AC unit needs to 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 are gone on vacation.

Setting the Thermostat for a Summer Vacation

If you’re traveling at the peak of summer, you should expect the temperature inside your house to increase as it gets warmer outside each day. With no air conditioning at all, the temperature could quickly top 90 degrees inside—not good news if you’re worried about fragile belongings.

A good guideline is to increase the thermostat 5 to 10 degrees warmer than you ordinarily do over the course of the day without exceeding 85 degrees. This is a good compromise between saving energy and protecting the interior of your home.

If you prefer a programmable or Wi-Fi thermostat, don't forget 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 on vacation to ensure your desired temperature sticks.

Preparing the Thermostat for a Winter Vacation

To decide the best thermostat setting when traveling in the winter, implement the same technique proposed above, but in reverse—that is, change the temperature 5 to 10 degrees colder than you generally do over the course of the day without dropping lower than 60 degrees.

The most significant reason to keep your home warm while you’re out of town is to minimize the risk of frozen pipes. Any plumbing that runs against exterior walls and in unfinished spaces is exposed to freezing. Maintaining the temperature at 60 degrees or up lowers this risk. Another good idea is to leave the cupboard doors open to help warm air flow around the pipes underneath the kitchen and bathroom sinks. You may also want to turn off the water at the central shut-off valve to avoid a plumbing crisis while you’re away.

Preparing a Smart Thermostat Before Leaving for Vacation

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

For example, you can follow up on the temperature remotely using your tablet or smartphone. Determine how regularly the AC or furnace has been active in your absence as it maintains the temperature you set before you left. If you’re concerned with what you see, you can change the thermostat from anywhere with 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 sudden environmental changes, including a higher-than-expected temperature or increased moisture while you’re away from home.

Other Vacation Recommendations

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

  • Consider any delicate paintings, electronics or houseplants that may be vulnerable to extreme temperatures.
  • If you’re leaving pets at home or have decided to have a house sitter come 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 home is comfortable enough for them.
  • Close your blinds and drapes to help keep the hot sun or cold winter air out of your home. This is also a privacy measure that keeps prying eyes from looking inside while you’re away from home.
  • Schedule HVAC maintenance before you head out to make sure your system operates correctly and is unlikely to encounter any trouble while you’re out of town.

Call Epperson Service Experts

Whether you have thermostat-related questions or are looking to schedule HVAC maintenance before your upcoming vacation, the HVAC experts at Epperson Service Experts are here to assist. We can suggest a new thermostat for your needs and even install it and show you how to use it. Our services cover all your HVAC needs, 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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