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

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

One common question people share is this: What should I set my thermostat to while I'm on vacation? Your goal will often be to conserve energy, but you'll still want to avoid turning off your HVAC system. The furnace or air conditioner needs to run a little to prevent severe heat or cold, depending on the season. Here’s what you need to learn about setting your thermostat when you leave on vacation.

Preparing the Thermostat for a Summer Vacation

If you’re on vacation at the height of summer, you should expect the temperature inside your house to increase as it gets hotter and hotter outside each day. With no air conditioning at all, the temperature could easily top 90 degrees inside—not happy news if you’re worried about delicate belongings.

A good suggestion is to raise the thermostat 5 to 10 degrees higher than you typically do during the day without exceeding 85 degrees. This is an ideal compromise between saving energy and protecting everything inside your home.

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

Setting the Thermostat for a Winter Vacation

To identify the best thermostat setting when on vacation in the winter, use the same method recommended above, but in the opposite direction—that is, set the temperature 5 to 10 degrees lower than you usually do during the day without slipping below 60 degrees.

The most important reason to heat your home while you’re on vacation is to prevent frozen pipes. Any plumbing that runs near exterior walls and in unheated spaces is exposed to freezing. Keeping the temperature at 60 degrees or up decreases this risk. Another great idea is to have the cupboard doors open to help warm air flow around the pipes underneath the kitchen and bathroom sinks. You might also want to shut off the water at the main shut-off valve to protect against a plumbing crisis while you’re away on vacation.

Setting a Smart Thermostat Before Taking a Vacation

If you don’t already use a Wi-Fi or “smart” thermostat, this can be an ideal time to upgrade. The latest enhancements in thermostat technology offer fantastic benefits, both while you’re at home and away.

For instance, you can follow up on the temperature remotely using your tablet or smartphone. Determine how often the AC or furnace has been running in your absence as it maintains the temperature you set before you left. If you’re concerned with what you find, you can adjust the thermostat from anywhere using 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 unforeseen environmental shifts, like a higher-than-expected temperature or excessive moisture while you’re gone.

More Vacation Recommendations

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

  • Remember any delicate paintings, electronics or houseplants that are sensitive to hot or cold temperatures.
  • If you’re leaving pets at home or have planned to have a house sitter stop by, you will 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 your blinds and drapes 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 away from home.
  • Schedule HVAC maintenance before you go to ensure your system runs correctly and is unlikely to experience any issues while you’re away.

Get in Touch with McElroy Service Experts

Whether you want to ask thermostat-related questions or are hoping to request HVAC maintenance before your next vacation, the HVAC pros at McElroy Service Experts are here to assist. We can point you to a new thermostat for your needs and even install it and show you how it works. Our services encompass all your HVAC requirements, from maintenance and repair to installation and replacement. Get in touch with us today to raise questions or schedule a visit from one of our experienced heating and cooling technicians.

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