If you’re getting ready to hit the road for a summer getaway, you have an excellent opportunity to save a little cash by adjusting your thermostat before you leave. Naturally, you’ll save the most money by shutting the A/C off completely, but that’s rarely a good idea -- a better plan is to simply turn the temperature up by a few degrees.

Protecting Your Home, Valuables and Pets

Your first consideration when choosing a home temperature for your absence is whether you’ll be leaving any pets behind. Dogs, cats and other mammals can live comfortably in a home that’s fairly warm, but keeping the A/C on is a must -- when the temperature outside tops 90 degrees, a sealed home can become an oven, driving temperatures into the triple digits. Consider adding four or five degrees to your usual thermostat setting.

If the only living things you’re leaving behind are a few houseplants, you can set the temperature a little higher -- the Environmental Protection Agency recommends a setting of 85 degrees Fahrenheit. At this temperature, you’ll save more energy while you’re gone than you’ll spend to cool things back down when you return.

The reason you can’t just shut your HVAC system down is because sustained heat and humidity can wreak havoc on your home. Drywall, sheetrock and wood can degrade and warp, and wallpaper can peel around the edges. The heat can also affect delicate items in your home, such as artwork, historical documents, bottled wine and sensitive electronics. Even if you set your thermostat to 85 degrees, you might want to make plans to relocate such items to a cooler space while you’re away.

If you live in an especially humid climate, you should consider keeping things a few degrees cooler so that it doesn't get so steamy in your home. Sustained indoor humidity can encourage mold and mildew growth, which is a health hazard on top of a housekeeping hassle.

Come Home to Comfort

A major downside to adjusting your thermostat for vacation is that you’ll usually home home to a hot house. But depending on the type of thermostat you have, you may be able to cool things down just in time.

Many programmable thermostats are sophisticated enough that you can set a high temperature for your absence and return to a lower temperature a few hours before your return. An even better solution is a smart thermostat, which gives you total control over your settings from anywhere in the world with your smartphone or tablet.

Just keep in mind that larger homes take longer to cool, and not all A/C systems cool air at the same rate. For most homes, you’ll want to start the cooling process at least two hours before your expected arrival.

If you want to upgrade to a programmable or smart thermostat before your summer vacation, get in touch with your local HVAC experts today!

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