You already know you can save a little cash by adjusting your thermostat during short vacations. But what if you’re taking an extended trip or have a vacation property that is vacant most of the time? The same basic rules apply, but there are some extra considerations if you expect your home to be empty for weeks or months.

Protect Your Property: The Best Thermostat Settings for Vacant Homes

Some homeowners make the mistake of thinking that longer absences mean you can set the thermostat a little higher in the summer and a little lower in the winter, but the opposite is actually true. When a home is too hot during humid summer months, the heat and moisture can warp wood, peel wallpaper and wreak other havoc around your home. The longer this is allowed to continue, the more damage can occur. In winter, condensation can be a damage factor in homes that are too cold -- not to mention frozen plumbing pipes.

So no matter how long you’ll be away, the setting that’s best for home maintenance is 85 degrees in the summer and 50 degrees in the winter. You might be tempted by a few dollars more in energy savings, but it’s simply not worth the risk of doing expensive damage throughout your entire home.

Get Smart: Vacant Homes Can Benefit from Smart Home Technology 

If you really want to maximize your energy savings in an unoccupied home, this could be the perfect reason to upgrade to a smart thermostat. Smart thermostats can be controlled by smartphones or tablets from virtually anywhere in the world, so it’s just like sticking your thermostat in your pocket and taking it with you. You can check the weather reports in the area of your unoccupied home, and if it’s an unseasonably dry summer day, you could set the thermostat a few degrees higher because you’re less worried about damage from humidity.

This kind of portable, real-time control can be beneficial to anyone with a smartphone, but it especially makes sense for properties that go unoccupied for weeks at a time.

On Your Way Out: Seasonal Precautions for Cold & Heat

Thermostat management is the most important element in your climate control strategy for a vacant home. But depending on the season, there are a few additional things you can do to keep your home safe and save a few extra bucks.

During the summer, sunlight is one of the primary factors keeping your home warmer than it needs to be. So make a point of tightly closing all blinds and curtains before you leave. If you have storm windows, consider installing those before a long absence -- they’ll block out even more light and protect your windows from severe weather damage.

In winter, the biggest concern is frozen plumbing pipes. An effective safeguard is to drain your plumbing system before any extended absence by shutting off the water main and draining all the remaining water through your faucets and fixtures. It’s also a good idea to open cabinet doors under your sinks so that heated indoor air has greater access to your pipes.

Prepare With the Pros: One Hour Heating & Air Conditioning 

If you’re in any doubt about how to properly prepare the climate control in your home before a long absence, get in touch with your local HVAC professionals.