There are many things to plan for when you’ll be away from home for an extended period or a vacation. In addition to all the packing and planning, you must also ensure your home is safe and secure while you’re away. One important part of this is setting your thermostat to an appropriate temperature while you’re away to reduce the amount of energy your heater or air conditioner uses and prevent potential problems with your home.
If you have pets staying home while you’re away, you probably want to leave your thermostat at a relatively normal setting for their comfort and health. Otherwise, experts recommend you adjust your heating or AC so that your system doesn’t run constantly when you’re away. Still, you also don’t want to adjust it too drastically or turn it off because this could lead to advanced issues with your system. With this in mind, here is an overview of the best thermostat settings to use while on vacation during different times of the year.
Vacations During Warm Months
The hot, humid Texas weather means that most people rely on their air conditioning the majority of the year. If you’re taking a vacation during a time when you would normally have your AC on, we recommend leaving the system on and simply turning the temperature up so that the AC doesn’t run as often. This simple step will even save some money!
If you will be gone for only a few days during the early spring or late fall, when the weather is typically milder and not as humid, you’re probably fine just shutting the AC completely off. If you’ll be gone during the hotter, more humid parts of the year, you’ll definitely want to leave the AC on. If you shut the AC off, the temperature inside could rise well above 100 F and potentially cause damage to sensitive electronics and furnishings.
Leaving the AC off will cause the humidity level inside the home to rise. The hotter it gets inside the house, the more humid it will become. If the humidity level goes much above 60%, condensation may form on your windows and walls, creating the potential for water damage. Mold can also grow incredibly quickly in hot, humid conditions, and the last thing you want is to come home from your vacation only to find that you’re now facing a massive mold infestation! For these reasons, it is always best to leave the AC on during sultry weather when you’re away.
The U.S. Department of Energy recommends turning your thermostat up to somewhere between 85 F and 90 F when taking a summer vacation. However, this recommendation isn’t really ideal in humid climates, as even 90 F could lead to serious issues within your home. Instead, we recommend turning the thermostat up to around 80 F and definitely no higher than 85 F. If you turn the thermostat up too high, your AC will actually need to work harder each time it comes on due to the high humidity level. By setting the thermostat to around 80 F when you’re away, you can still save money while avoiding any other potential damage to your home or belongings.
Winter Vacation Thermostat Settings
The San Antonio area rarely experiences freezing weather, but there are still plenty of times when your heating system will run nearly daily. If you plan on going away during a time of year when your heater would normally be on, you’ll definitely want to keep it turned on while you’re away.
There is always a slight chance that a cold snap could hit and potentially cause your pipes to freeze if your heater isn’t left on. If one of your pipes freezes, it could rupture and send gallons of water rushing out. If you were gone for even a day or two when it happened, you could come home to find your home completely flooded and face a huge bill to repair all the damage.
For this reason, it is always best to leave the heat on and the thermostat set to around 60 F when taking a vacation in the winter. However, don’t turn the temperature down below 60 F. If the indoor temperature drops below 60 F and the outdoor temperature is below freezing, your pipes could still freeze. Even if the thermostat is set to 55 F, a cold snap could lead to some parts of the home becoming cold enough for a water line to freeze. The places most prone to this happening are underneath cabinets and where the main water line enters your home from outside.
Other Important Vacation HVAC Tips
In addition to adjusting your heat or AC before going on vacation, there are some other steps you can take to help save money and energy consumption while you’re away. We often recommend closing all your curtains, blinds, and window coverings before leaving for your trip.
Keeping your windows covered can help to reduce how often your heater or AC has to run. Keeping the window coverings closed in the winter will help to lessen the amount of cold air that seeps in from outside, while keeping them closed in the summer will make a significant difference in the amount of heat gain your home gets from the sun.
If your home has ceiling fans, it is also a good idea to leave them running whenever taking a winter vacation. Heat naturally rises and settles up near the ceiling. The ceiling fans will work to push this air downward and circulate the heat throughout the area so that your heating system doesn’t need to run as frequently.
If you haven’t had your heater or air conditioner inspected and maintained this year, we recommend scheduling this before you leave. Regular maintenance prevents issues that can limit the effectiveness of your HVAC system and lead to higher energy bills. Inspecting the system also helps identify any problems that could cause your heater or air conditioner to stop working while you’re away.
If your home doesn’t have a smart thermostat, you may also want to consider installing one. Smart thermostats are convenient and can help lower your heating and cooling costs. They also allow you to monitor and control your HVAC system from your phone or tablet. This means you can ensure your heater or AC is still working while you’re away and adjust the temperature to normal before you get home so that the house is comfortable when you arrive.
If you want to ensure your HVAC system is functioning properly before your vacation, Air Authority, A Riteway Service Company is here to help. We specialize in all types of residential and commercial HVAC services, including installation, repair, and maintenance. We also offer indoor air quality services, air duct cleaning, and ductless systems. For more information or to schedule a service call in the San Antonio area, contact Air Authority, A Riteway Service Company today.