How Low Should I Set My Thermostat While Out of Town



Overview: A good rule of thumb in Virginia is set your A/C at 80 degrees in the summer when you’re on vacation, and to leave your heating at 55 degrees during the winter when you are away from your home.

Most homeowners are more focused on getting their bags packed for vacation than they are on keeping their home energy efficient while they are away. Many homeowners also assume that an empty house automatically means lower energy bills, however, the average home will continue to consume the same amount of energy if the thermostat is not properly set for vacation use.

As you prepare for vacation, you should also prepare your home to use less energy in their absence. This involves a few simple preparation measures that take little to no time to perform. The proper vacation thermostat setting can help homeowners reduce their home’s energy consumption and save money on utility costs in the process.

A Variety of Variables

There are plenty of variables to consider when choosing what to set your thermostat to while out of town. These factors include the type of heating and cooling system in use, the amount of time the homeowner plans to be out of town, expected temperatures during that period of time, and a home’s insulation capabilities.

There are also special circumstances to consider. For instance, homeowners who plan on leaving their pets at home will want to set the thermostat to maintain an energy-efficient yet comfortable temperature for them. Homeowners may want to speak to a veterinarian before deciding on a temperature or, as an alternative, arrange for pet boarding or have a trusted friend or neighbor care for their pets until they return.

Ideal Thermostat Settings

  • For long-term vacations during the summer, set the A/C to 80 degrees. In Virginia, a temperature of 80 degrees will prevent excess humidity that might occur if you were to turn off your unit completely.
  • For long-term vacations during the winter, the best winter vacation thermostat setting is somewhere around 55 degrees. This will prevent the furnace from operating unnecessarily since the home’s heating demands are significantly reduced during this time. However, the temperature should not be set any lower than 55 degrees to prevent the water pipes from freezing and bursting. Homeowners may also want a trusted neighbor to check the house every so often to make sure the furnace is still in operation.
  • The best vacation thermostat setting for short-term vacations is a bit trickier to figure out. Homeowners who plan to be away for only a couple of days may want to use warmer thermostat settings or even leave their settings as they are. Not only does it cause more stress on the heating and cooling system to return the home to its usual temperature in such a short period, but it also negates much of the energy savings offered.

A freeze warning device such as a winter watchman comes in handy for monitoring and alerting others to temperature changes below the thermostat’s setpoint. The winter watchman plugs into any outlet and also features an outlet of its own for a lamp, preferably positioned near the front of the house. If the indoor temperature drops below the watchman’s configured setpoint, the device automatically turns on the lamp, alerting neighbors to a potential freeze issue.

If the home has a programmable thermostat, homeowners can program temperature adjustments based on the time of day and date. Homeowners can even program the heating and cooling system to return the home to its normal temperature on the day of their arrival. To learn more about how to maximize your system’s potential, schedule an appointment with a DSC technician here.