You likely have enough to worry about if you are one of the millions of Americans who travel during the holidays. As you finally finish your to-do list, unplug your appliances, and head out the door, you may be tempted to turn off your thermostat. After all, why should you spend money heating an empty house?
Yet, it’s not that simple. Turning your thermostat off for short or longer trips doesn’t save money. This is because of the energy it takes to regain a comfortable temperature when you get back. And leaving it off for extended trips could result in stagnant, unhealthy air and frozen pipes.
What Happens If I Turn My Thermostat Off When I Leave Home?
When you turn your thermostat off during a holiday trip, your heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system won’t run while you’re gone. As a result, your home’s temperature will begin to edge up or down to match the outdoor temperatures.
In specific climates, interior levels could drop enough to freeze your water pipes, hoses, and appliances, causing costly damage. The money you save on lower utility bills would be quickly eaten up if you come home to a burst pipe, a broken dishwasher, or a major flood in your home.
Additionally, if you live in a higher humidity climate, leaving your house with the stagnant air of an inactive HVAC system is not a good idea. This is because the humidity levels in your home can increase, creating a robust environment for dust and mold to flourish.
Should I Turn My Thermostat Up or Down?
Depending on the climate you live in, you should alter your thermostat a few degrees up or down instead of turning it off. Turning your thermostat off completely won’t save you money. Plus, it takes more energy to restart from scratch after a complete shutdown.
Minor adjustments will allow your interior temperature to match your exterior temperatures without triggering your HVAC to turn on more than it needs to.
If you’re leaving during a warm spell or live in a mild climate, adjust your thermostat’s air conditioning controls up a few degrees.
- For short trips, raise your thermostat setting three to five degrees higher than normal.
- For trips longer than two weeks, raising the temperature approximately 10 degrees above the standard setting is more efficient.
In colder locations, you can turn your thermostat down to around 50 to 60 degrees. Your furnace won’t constantly run at this level, but it will kick on to protect your pipes and appliances if temperatures become too frigid.
How Can I Save Energy With a Programmable Thermostat?
The most economical way to lower your cooling and heating bills is to install a programmable thermostat and set it lower in the winter and higher in the summer when your home is unoccupied.
A programmable thermostat is operated by a control switch that turns your HVAC system on or off once it hits a desired set level. It is designed to save you money on energy costs by reducing the temperature disparity between the inside and outside air.
When you leave and set your thermostat warmer (in the summer) or cooler (in the winter), your HVAC system will shut off and drift until your home reaches that lower/winter temperature or higher/summer temperature.
You can decrease the energy your house uses by setting back your thermostat. This is because it diminishes the rate of heat gain or loss. In other words, the closer your setback temperature is to the outside temperature, the more energy you will save.
Yet, after your holiday travels, it’ll take longer for your interior temperature to reach its optimal level. A programmable thermostat is helpful in this instance because you can set it to turn on your heat or AC before arriving home. That way, your home will be comfortably heated or cooled when you walk through the door.
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A Wi-Fi Thermostat Can Help You Save On Your Energy Bills
Wi-Fi thermostats are another way to save money on energy costs and keep your home’s temperature at a moderate level during your holiday travels. The most significant benefit to having a Wi-Fi thermostat is its flexibility in allowing you to create temperature programs that change throughout the day.
Though you should beware that manipulating your thermostat too often can lead to inefficient use of energy, raising your energy bill. Therefore, be sure to set your Wi-Fi thermostat to adjust it as few times a day as possible to increase efficiency.
Another benefit of installing a Wi-Fi thermostat involves using your smartphone or tablet to change your temperature settings remotely. This means if you forget to change your thermostat before leaving on your holiday travels, it’s not too late. You can adjust your settings from anywhere.
Other Ways to Conserve Energy
Invest in your home’s infrastructure and get routine maintenance from the pros at Ambient Edge. This can help you save money any time of the year – regardless of whether you are home or away.
The following steps can help you conserve energy, improve the comfort level of your home, and lower your monthly utility bills:
- Reduce the heat getting through your windows and doors by selecting energy-efficient options and maintaining your weather sealing.
- Make sure you have adequate insulation in your home to minimize thermal transfer.
- Have your ductwork checked regularly for leaks. If air is escaping due to faulty installation or joint weakness, your system will be working overtime to maintain your set temperature. We will check to see if your ducts are leaking and will seal and repair them if they are.
Call Ambient Edge for Questions Regarding Your Thermostat
Most heating and cooling professionals recommend keeping your thermostat when traveling for the holidays. However, you can save money and protect your pipes by increasing or decreasing your thermostat a few degrees before you leave.
At Ambient Edge, we also recommend an HVAC inspection before you leave. Our skilled technicians will check your thermostat, seal your leaky ductwork, and ensure your whole system is running as efficiently and smoothly as possible.