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HVAC Maintenance FAQ: What Should I Set My Thermostat to When I’m Away From Home?

HVAC Maintenance FAQ: What Should I Set My Thermostat to When I’m Away From Home?

Ask a question about thermostat settings or type it into Google and you’ll find that everyone seems to have a differing opinion about what temperature to set your thermostat to when you’re away from home. The correct answer may be different for every household as it depends on your preference, your goals, and your budget. But today, we want to help our customers and answer one of the most common HVAC maintenance questions: What should I set my thermostat to when I’m away from home? 

It’s a hot day, and your air conditioner has been pumping cold air into your home for hours. Now, you need to go out to do some shopping. You don’t want to waste cold air and money by keeping the air conditioner on with no one in the house. At the same time, you don’t want to come home to a hot house after a long day.

Setting thermostats when you’re not home can be confusing. Although trying to balance comfort and energy savings may seem complicated, our HVAC system experts at Peninsula Heating and Air can help you clear up the confusion and save money. So what should the temperature be when I’m not home? Let’s take a closer look. 

Peninsula Heating & Air proudly services Air Conditioners and Furnaces for Middle Peninsula and Peninsula Virginia residents surrounding Williamsburg, Gloucester, and Yorktown. 

Follow These Guidelines

The U.S. Department of Energy has published the following basic guideline to help homeowners breach this debate: As a general rule, set your thermostat as low as comfortably possible in the winter and as high as possible in the summer. 

Here’s why that works: the narrower the gap between the temperature in your home and outside, the lower your energy bill will be. For example, if it’s a hot summer day and it’s 89 degrees outside, it requires much less energy for your HVAC system to cool your home to 80 degrees than to 66 degrees. However, because you want to prioritize your and your family’s comfort level, you should ask yourself: what’s the closest temperature I can set my thermostat to to match the outside temperature that won’t leave me too uncomfortable?

Save Yourself Money

The Department of Energy estimates that you can save as much as 10% on your heating and cooling bill each year simply by adjusting your thermostat 7-10 degrees for at least 8 hours a day. The smaller the differentiation between the temperature your thermostat’s set to and the outside air temperature, the less energy you’ll use and the more money you’ll save. 

If you typically keep your thermostat at a comfortable 68 degrees during the summer, try gradually increasing the temperature to more closely match the temperature outside your home. As your environment changes, your comfort level will adjust. 

Similarly, if you generally like to keep your home at 78 degrees during the winter, take it down a notch to 68-71 degrees to not only save money but also require less work of your HVAC system and will equate to less need for additional HVAC maintenance. 

How Should I Set My Thermostat When I’m Away From Home?

Away from home for less than 4 hours

If you’ll only be away from your home for a couple of hours, there won’t be much of a benefit derived from adjusting your thermostat settings. The savings you see from doing so will be offset by the energy it takes to readjust the temperature back to normal when you return home.

Away for more than 4 hours

If you will be away from home for more than 4 hours, we recommend adjusting the thermostat 5 degrees higher in the summer or 5 degrees lower in the winter. This is a good idea for weekdays when the family is out at work and school. 

The savings earned by adjusting your thermostat by more than 5 degrees again will be offset by returning the settings to normal when you come home.

Away for an extended period of time

If you are going away on vacation, we recommend adjusting your thermostat by about 7-10 degrees to conserve energy while you’re gone. There’s no use spending money on heating and cooling when nobody is home. 

Home Automation: An Easy Solution

With home automation, you can adjust your home’s temperature from any device in addition to adjusting your thermostat to match your personal preferences.

How Can a Smart Thermostat Help Me Properly Heat and Cool an Empty House?

If you are going to be away from your home for an extended period of time, consider installing a smart thermostat in your home. A smart thermostat is similar to a programmable thermostat, except that it gives you even greater control over your home’s heating and cooling systems.

A smart thermostat is wifi enabled and allows you to control it from the convenience of your smartphone, meaning you can program or check your home’s status whether you are at home or away. Smart thermostats also learn your home’s temperature patterns and adjust heating and cooling accordingly. Once they learn the patterns, you will have very little programming to do, if any, since the smart thermostat will independently control the temperature settings.

Smart thermostats increase efficiency by finding the best temperature for your home, whether you are at home or away for long periods of time. Doing so will maximize savings on your energy bill by cutting down on energy usage.

Call Peninsula Heating and Air for Help Maximizing Your Thermostat Temperature

Knowing how to control the temperature in your home for maximum savings and efficiency can be confusing, but it doesn’t have to be.

Let our home comfort professionals in Virginia advise you on the best services and products for the heating and cooling of your home. Call us at 804-642-6163 or complete our online contact form to speak with an experienced HVAC Professional at Peninsula Heating and Air today.


Peninsula Heating & Air

Peninsula Heating & Air, or better known as “PHA” was established in 1955 in Newport News, Virginia. Privately owned and operated, PHA quickly became known as the Tidewater area’s leader in residential and light commercial comfort solutions.

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