family on vacation with their home thermostat settings ready for vacation

Best Thermostat Settings for Vacation

  • Written By: Shannon Bedrich

  • The plans have been made. The bags are packed. You deserve a vacation. But what are the best thermostat settings for vacation to keep your electricity bill low? In other words, when you’re in vacation mode, is there a vacation mode for your house?

    The best approach is to set your vacation thermostat about 10 degrees higher (summer) or lower (winter) than you normally set it when away from home. This lowers the amount of time your HVAC system is running while you are away. In general, don’t set it above 85° in the summer or below 50° in the winter.

    Best Thermostat Settings for Winter Vacation

    For your winter vacation, you need to make sure you don’t have an issue with frozen pipes. That’s why you should never turn your heat all the way off when you are gone for an extended period.

    Instead, make a more moderate change to your thermostat. That way you won’t be heating an empty house, but you also don’t risk a broken pipe.

    The best thermostat setting for winter vacation is 50°

    If you are in an area that is prone to snow and freezing temperatures, you may consider a slightly higher temperature, but no higher than 60° is necessary.

    If you have had frozen pipes in the past, and haven’t made any insulation changes, leave the cabinet doors open underneath your kitchen and bathroom sink. That allows the warm air to reach these pipes. Also, make sure to turn off water to outside faucets and drain the water from these faucets before you leave town.

    When you get home, the most energy efficient thermostat setting for winter is around 68-72°.

    control thermostat settings while on vacation

    Best Thermostat Settings for Summer Vacation

    During your summer vacation, you don’t have to worry about frozen pipes, but you do need to worry about humidity. That’s because your central HVAC system not only cools your home, it also controls humidity.

    That humidity control is key to keeping mold and mildew to a minimum in your house. Because of that, you’ll want to boost your thermostat when you leave on vacation, but not turn it off completely.

    The best thermostat setting for summer vacation is 85°

    This is especially important if you’re in a southern or western state like Texas where summer temps can reach triple digits. On hot days, your HVAC has to run harder to reach that setting on the thermostat. Why make it cool a home that’s empty?

    When you get home, the most energy efficient thermostat setting for summer is around 72-76°. Don’t drop the temperature lower than that, expecting the house to cool off faster. That doesn’t actually work!

    Should I turn my thermostat off when I’m on vacation?

    No. HVAC experts say to never completely shut off your heating or air conditioning system when you are on vacation. Doing so could cause excess humidity (leading to mold) or excess cold (leading to frozen pipes).

    Best Thermostat Settings for Vacation for Dogs & Cats in the Home

    Many people prefer to leave their pets at home when they travel, and have a friend or pet setting service visit them several times daily. This helps your pet maintain their normal routine.

    If you have pets at home while on vacation, you need to take that into account when picking your vacation thermostat setting.

    The recommended vacation settings for your thermostat when you have dogs in the home is:

    • No lower than 60° for winter
    • No higher than 82° for summer

    If you have cats in the home, the recommended vacation thermostat setting is:

    • No lower than 70° in the winter
    • No hotter than 88° in the summer

    This is based on best temperatures for cats and dogs. If you have an exotic pet, ask your veterinarian for their recommendation.

    Energy Efficiency Tips for Vacation

    Your HVAC system is the biggest contributor to your electricity bill but it’s not the only thing you should look at. A lot of appliances use power while they are turned off. Follow these energy efficiency tips for your home before vacation and you’ll come home to a lower energy bill.

    • Use your water heater vacation mode. Your water heater continues to cycle when you are gone, to keep the water hot and waiting for you. Check to see if it has a vacation mode, a setting that keeps the water at around 50°. If not, turn the water heater thermostat down to the lowest setting. For a gas water heater, turn it to the pilot setting.
    • Unplug the TV when on vacation. With all the on-demand options for television, you may be able to unplug your television when you are on vacation and not miss any of your favorite shows.
    • Change the air filter before vacation. Change the air filter in your central HVAC system before you leave on vacation. A clogged filter can make your system run less efficiently.
    • Unplug small appliances when on vacation. Unplug appliances like your coffee maker, computer and monitor.
    • Use smart plugs to control lights. Before smart phones, many people used timers to turn lights off and on in their home on vacation. That way your house looks occupied. Add smart plugs your home and do the same thing from your phone, or control lights with Alexa, Echo or Google home.
    • Take a look at your electricity bill. If you’re in a state with deregulation, check the expiration date on your electricity contract. Take care of business and shop for electricity to avoid paying a high off-contract rate while you’re away.

    Before you leave on your next vacation, follow these tips to keep your energy bills low while you are enjoying time away. And invest in a smart thermostat so you can control your thermostat settings from anywhere!

    About Shannon Bedrich

    Shannon Bedrich, co-founded ElectricityPlans in 2016 after shopping for electricity rates using a confusing state-sponsored website. A CPA and our CFO, Shannon is the one that deciphers the fine print on each electricity plan. Outside of work, Shannon enjoys spending time with family, rooting for the Aggies, and exploring all that Houston has to offer.

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