When you’re on your way out the door for a much-needed vacation, thermostat settings are the last thing on your mind. But whether you’re beach bound, headed to the hills, or off to visit distant friends or relatives, you’re going to want your homecoming to be as easy as possible. And you don’t want any unexpected charges from overheating an empty home. So what should your thermostat settings be when you’re on vacation?
Change Thermostat Settings to a Happy Medium
Here’s the conundrum: turning your HVAC off altogether isn’t a good idea, but you don’t want your HVAC running all the time. When determining the best thermostat settings while you’re on vacation, there are several factors to take into account.
Do you have pets? Houseplants? Laptops?
If you’re leaving your pet behind, ask your veterinarian what an appropriate temperature range might be. Your pet’s health and comfort is paramount, so you probably aren’t going to worry about higher energy bills or an overworked system.
Plants and electronics are less sensitive than pets, but overheating or very cold temperatures can damage them. Samsung, for example, recommends only using their televisions in temperatures ranging from 50° to 104°. A sudden drop in heat of 10° or more can seriously damage houseplants. Most plants grow best when the temperature ranges between 65° and 75° during the day.
How long will you be gone?
If you’re only leaving for a few days, any savings you’d see from increasing your thermostat settings would be offset by the extra work needed to get your home back to your optimum settings upon your return. Going on a longer trip? Feel free to turn it up a bit higher. Even though it will take more time to return to temperature when you get home, you’ll be saving over the several days you’re gone.
What season is it?
If it’s the middle of summer, set your temperature higher so you aren’t cooling the house unnecessarily. In the winter, opt for low settings so the heat doesn’t come on. If you’re unsure, look at the weather for the days you’ll be gone. Take the highs and lows and average them together to come up with a thermostat setting that should be remarkably close to the weather outdoors. That way, your thermostat will still turn on occasionally, but your HVAC won’t be overworked.
Don’t turn it off.
A quiet compressor could be a signal to prospective thieves that you aren’t home. Savvy burglars could notice that your HVAC system isn’t running despite hot or cold weather. This is a clear signal that you’re out of town, and could make you a target.
Buy a Smart Thermostat
Some programmable thermostats work with apps so you can change thermostat settings remotely. This is a worthwhile investment. It allows you to change your thermostat settings midway through your vacation if you forgot beforehand. And it gives you the ability to increase your thermostat settings when you’re on your way home, so you come back to a comfortable house.
Other Vacation Tips
There are several other things you can do to save money and make sure everything is working properly while you’re on vacation.
- Check your filter. A clean filter optimizes your air conditioner’s efficiency.
- Clean your compressor. The area around your compressor should be free of potential blockages that could interfere with the condenser coils or the fan.
- Check your drain pan. If your drain pan is full of water, you could have a clogged drainpipe. You’ll want to take care of that before you leave.
- Unplug small appliances. Appliances that are plugged into the wall still draw power – which you get charged for.
- Turn off water valves. Would there be anything worse than coming home to water damage from a leak? Avoid the potential by turning off water valves entirely.
- Put your water heater in vacation mode. Some water heaters have a vacation mode. (It’s the VAC setting.) Now’s the time to use it!
As they say, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Steer clear of any last-minute issues by getting your HVAC system regularly checked and maintained. A maintenance agreement is always worth the money. Don’t spend your vacation worrying about your HVAC system or your thermostat settings. Call Newcomb and Company today, and we’ll get you set up.