How Should I Set My Thermostat When I Go On Vacation

Tom Gaffey
by Tom Gaffey

Taking a vacation is always an exciting endeavor, but it also can take a lot of planning. This is particularly true if you are a homeowner and are planning to leave your home vacant for an extended period of time.

Plants need watering and refrigerators cleaned out. You also need to do all you can to conserve electricity while you are gone. While many appliances use electricity, HVAC is often the biggest electrical expense.

So, you are likely wondering the best temperature to set your thermostat when you go on vacation to save money and keep your home safe.

When you take a vacation, you should make sure to program your thermostat and not turn it completely off. If vacationing in the summer, set the thermostat higher than usual, but do not exceed 85 degrees Fahrenheit. When vacationing in the winter, you can set the thermostat as low as 50 degrees. Make sure you don’t turn the heat off, as pipes can burst if it gets too cold outside. In the summer, high heat can damage numerous household items.

Before you leave for vacation you likely have a long to-do list of tasks to ensure your home is safe and secure in your absence. On this list should also be tasks that will help lower your energy bill while you are away. After all, you shouldn’t have to pay tons of money to keep your home heated or cooled when no one is there. But before you set your thermostat at a random temperature, there are some factors to think about.

Four Things To Consider When Setting The Thermostat Before A Trip

1. What The Weather Forecast Looks Like

First and foremost, you need to think about the weather outside. This will dictate how warm your home will get. In general, it is not a good idea to completely turn off your HVAC system, as it can sometimes take more energy to drastically change the temperature. But if you are traveling during mild weather where the temperature won't rise above 80 degrees or dip below 50, then you might be safe to simply turn it off.

2. The Type Of Thermostat You Have

There are a wide range of thermostats on the market. There are manual-operated thermostats that don’t allow you to program anything. There are programmable models and even smart thermostats you can control from your smartphone. Naturally, the method of controlling temperature to minimize your electric bill while on vacation will depend on exactly what your thermostat is capable of.

3. What Temperature Sensitive Items Are In Your Home

You should also consider what is inside your home when setting your thermostat before a vacation. Think about what items or appliances are sensitive to heat. Some homes have lots of sensitive fabrics, fish tanks, or living plants that have specific needs. Others are minimalist and don’t have anything alive inside the home to worry about.

4. Are There Pets Or People Visiting The Home In Your Absence

If you have a cat or pet that will be left in the home and checked on periodically, then you might require a different temperature setting than if there is no animal. The same goes if you have someone periodically checking on your home and watering plants.

How To Set Your Thermostat When Taking A Summer Vacation

When you are taking a summer vacation, the odds are your home can reach very high and unsafe temperatures if you turn off your HVAC system. Therefore, make sure to set your thermostat, but donot keep it at its normal temperature because that would be a waste of energy.

Instead, you should keep your thermostat higher than normal, but don’t let it exceed 85 degrees in most cases. If you are looking to keep the home safe but save as much as possible on electricity, plan to set your thermostat to 85.

Why It’s Not Wise To Set A Thermostat Above 85

When your home reaches above 85 regularly, it becomes more difficult to dehumidify it. This can cause items to become wet and even moldy while you are on vacation. Furthermore, there are lots of appliances and household items that should not exceed 85 degrees. This includes some cleaning products, bath products, and medications.

How To Set Your Thermostat When Taking A Winter Vacation

If you are taking a vacation in the winter, you can let your home get much cooler than if you were in the home. But while you can let the temperatures dip a bit, it can be dangerous and quite costly to turn off your thermostat altogether when you take a trip in the winter.

To make sure your home stays safe but your electricity bill stays low, you should plan to set your home thermostat to 50, and no lower than 45, when you take a trip in the winter.

Why It’s A Bad Idea To Set A Thermostat Below 50

Remember that you need to think not only about your electric bill but also about your home’s integrity. When your home hits temperatures below freezing, anything with water will freeze. This will also cause it to expand. This means cracked pipes and lines, and all sorts of potential damage.

Tips To Reduce Electric Bill And Temperature Extremes When On Vacation

1. Close Curtains And Window Treatments Completely

Remember that your thermostat is just one line of defense when it comes to keeping your home at a safe temperature when you are on vacation. Windows are a place where lots of temperature variation occurs, especially if the windows are a bit older or of lower quality.

Rays of light as well as small openings in the cracks of the window allow heat to come in through in the summer and cold in the winter. Keep curtains and window treatments closed and cover the windows to reduce the impact of this problem.

2. Don’t Completely Shut Down Your HVAC

If you are taking a trip in the warmest or coldest months, do not shut off your HVAC. Not only could this put your home at risk, but it might even cost you more money. Believe it or not, keeping a home just a few degrees cooler than outside can take less energy than completely dehumidifying a home and bringing it down 30 degrees after a vacation.

3. Perform HVAC Maintenance Before Your Trip

You should also make sure your HVAC system is running at its best before leaving on a trip. It is a good idea to perform your scheduled HVAC maintenance before a vacation. For one, this will reduce the odds of something going wrong when you are away. Additionally, performing regular HVAC maintenance can also help reduce your energy costs in the long run. If you can’t do a sweeping inspection, at least remember to replace your HVAC’s air filters.

4. Have Friends Look After Temperature-Sensitive Belongings And Plants

You also might want to consider relocating the more temperature-sensitive items in your home when you take a vacation. If you have fish or temperamental orchids, see if a friend can watch after them in your home. This is a great way to ensure these temperature-sensitive items survive while you are away, and it also allows you to set your thermostat at a more cost-effective temperature.

Concluding Thoughts On How To Set A Thermostat Before A Trip

As you start preparing your home for a vacation, make sure you factor in the temperature of your house while you are gone. If you are taking a vacation in the hot summer months, make sure to keep your thermostat no higher than 85 degrees. If your vacation is in the winter, keep your thermostat set to around 50 degrees or higher. Keeping your home within this temperature range will keep it and your belongings safe, and also lower your electricity bill for the time you are away.

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Tom Gaffey
Tom Gaffey

Tom Gaffey is an expert writer who currently resides in Washington D.C. Tom has a passion for real estate and home improvement writing, as well as travel and lifestyle writing. He lived the last twelve years in Hawaii where he worked closely with luxury resorts and event planners, mastering his knowledge of aesthetics and luxury products. This is where he found his passion for home improvement and a keen interest in DIY projects. Currently, Tom resides in Washington D.C, and also working on his debut fiction novel.

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