Deciding whether to turn off the HVAC system when you go away for vacation depends on several factors. First and foremost, you need to consider the expected outside temperature while you’re away. If it’s going to be below freezing, keeping the HVAC system on the entire time you’re gone is highly recommended to keep the plumbing from freezing and bursting. Let’s take a closer look at what you need to know about turning off the HVAC system during vacations.

How Long Is It Okay to Leave the HVAC Off?

The longest you should ever leave the HVAC system off is for a few hours. You might find it tempting to leave the AC or furnace off for several days in an attempt to save on electricity costs, but it can actually cost you more in the long run due to the problems that might arise. Instead of worrying whether to turn them off, it’s best to consider how long you anticipate being away from the home, as this dictates what temperature to set the thermostat to.

Keeping your HVAC system set to its usual temperature is the best option if you’re just going to be away for a short period of time (less than five days). The Department of Energy recommends keeping the thermostat between 85 and 90 degrees if you’re going away for extended periods of time (five days or longer). Doing so should be sufficient to ensure the HVAC system removes any extra humidity while you’re away.

What Happens If You Leave the HVAC Off Too Long?

Leaving the air conditioner turned off when you go on vacation can cause all kinds of issues. In the summer, it can cause mold to flourish in damp, stagnant air because of the elevated humidity. Leaving the furnace off during the winter can result in inadequate heating during the winter, leading to pipe bursts caused by cold temperatures. Your home’s HVAC systems play a vital role in the well-being of plants and perishable products, as well as your electronics. They also help ensure the home doesn’t become infested with pests. With all of this in mind, it’s always best to leave the HVAC systems on when you go on vacation.

How to Prep the HVAC System for Vacations

There are several tips you can follow to ensure you properly prep the heating and cooling systems for vacations. Combining these tips with regular inspections is an excellent way to boost the performance of these systems as well as your overall comfort.

1. Use a Programmable Thermostat

For simple yet efficient temperature management, programmable thermostats are a great choice. They let people easily schedule customized heating and cooling schedules, which optimizes energy use and lowers power expenditures. These gadgets also allow you to program different temperatures for different times of the day, which is great for both comfort and conserving energy. Using some of today’s most advanced technologies, many programmable thermostats allow users to conveniently monitor and alter settings from anywhere using their cellphones, thanks to remote accessibility. As a whole, programmable thermostats can make homes more comfortable, save money and reduce energy use.

2. Adjust the Thermostat

If you’re leaving Riverside in the summer to go on vacation, it’s recommended to keep the thermostat at roughly 85°F to save energy and avoid overheating. To keep pipes from freezing and save money on heating when you’re away on winter holidays, it’s best to set the thermostat to around 50°F. With these adjustments, you can be certain that your house will be cozy and inviting upon your return without breaking the bank on energy. Keep in mind that variations in adjustments may occur as a result of individual tastes and the needs of a particular house.

3. Schedule a Maintenance Check

Scheduling an HVAC maintenance check before vacation is crucial for a worry-free trip. Regular maintenance ensures your system operates efficiently, reducing the risk of breakdowns in your absence. Addressing potential issues early prevents costly repairs and ensures optimal performance while also contributing to energy efficiency and minimizing utility costs. This precautionary measure provides peace of mind, allowing you to enjoy your vacation without worrying about returning to uncomfortable temperatures or unexpected system failures.

4. Change Air Filters

If you want your air conditioner to work at its best while you’re away, change the filter before you go. By keeping the filter clean, you increase airflow throughout the home, which in turn reduces energy consumption and keeps the HVAC system from overworking. Additionally, it guarantees improved indoor air quality, which lessens the likelihood of allergies and pollutants accumulating in the house while you’re gone. If you keep the filter clean before you go, you make your house healthier and more efficient, and you can reduce the likelihood of problems while you’re away.

5. Inspect the Ductwork

Maintaining a well-functioning HVAC system and reducing electricity bills require regular inspections of the ducting. Duct leaks or obstructions cause inconsistencies in heating or cooling, which in turn causes energy loss and possible system failures. Avoiding energy waste and maximizing system performance are both made possible by anticipating and fixing potential problems. Furthermore, it aids in keeping the inside at a pleasant temperature, which increases your sense of security while you’re not there.

6. Clean Vents and Registers

One of the best ways to ensure the HVAC system is running efficiently and effectively before you go on vacation is to clean the vents and registers. A decline in system efficiency might occur if dust and debris build up in the vents, obstructing airflow throughout the home and making it harder for the HVAC systems to heat and cool the home. When vents are clean, air can circulate more freely, which reduces the likelihood of pollutants and allergies spreading. In addition to making the house a healthier place to live, this also helps the HVAC system run more efficiently, which means less money spent on energy bills.

7. Close Curtains and Blinds

Closing the blinds and drapes before you head out on vacation is an easy measure that helps control interior temperatures by obstructing the sun’s rays. This lowers heat absorption in the summer and keeps heat loss at bay in the winter. Reduced energy usage results from the HVAC system’s improved operation thanks to fewer temperature swings. Additionally, closed window coverings shield furniture from the sun’s rays and provide security. Your house will be more pleasant and energy-efficient when you return from your trip if you implement this habit before you go.

If you’re going on vacation for more than a few weeks, you may want to let your HVAC contractor know. A professional can ensure the filters stay changed and keep an eye on the system while you’re gone. If you want to speak with someone about prepping your HVAC system for vacation, give Sheldon's Heating & Air Conditioning a call. We also help homeowners in Riverside with a variety of plumbing services, including water heater repair, drain cleaning and more. Contact us now to learn more about taking care of your home’s HVAC systems.

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