Summer is in full swing, and many homeowners are getting ready to take a well earned break. There are many preparations that need to be made to ensure that your home is safe and ready for your return. In this article, we will be specifically looking at the AC system and whether you should turn it off or keep it on when you’re away.
A Quick Primer
For most homeowners, the primary concern will be saving and not wasting expensive energy. Of course, turning off the AC system entirely will solve this problem, but experts recommend that you may want to turn the thermostat up while you’re gone instead. This may seem counterintuitive, but we will explore why you may want to do this in greater detail below.
The Vacation Length
If you’re only going away for a weekend, it’s a good idea to keep the aircon on and set it at 7° or 10° higher than normal. Cooling an empty home at your regular comfortable temperature is a waste of energy if you’re not there to enjoy it. It may put some additional strain on your AC system to return a hot house to a comfortable temperature, but you will save energy and keep the humidity under control if you leave the system on.
In these circumstances, a programmable thermostat is really handy, and you can set the system to return to a more comfortable temperature just before you return home automatically. The strain on your AC system can be significantly reduced if you draw your blinds, curtains, and drapes before leaving to keep the hot sunlight out of your rooms.
If the vacation is longer than a couple of days, you may save more money by turning the system off. In this case, you could set your programmable thermostat to turn on and start cooling your home down a day before your return. Of course, if you have any pets staying home, the temperature needs to be comfortable for them to keep them safe and avoid them becoming distressed.
The Weather Forecast
It’s a good idea to check your local forecast for the timeframe of your pending vacation. The weather plays a very important role in your decision to keep the AC on or turn it off. If the weather is going to be mild, you may want to turn the AC off as there is little to no risk of heat building up indoors if you have the windows covered. If the weather is going to be hot, the AC should be kept to prevent your cooling equipment from working too hard to compensate for the higher temperatures in your home. Bear in mind that temperatures above 80° can easily cause distress to any pets that you’re leaving at home.
Energy Efficiency in Your Home
The overall energy efficiency is also a factor in the decision to turn the AC off when you go on vacation. A home with adequate attic insulation, efficient windows, and lower air infiltration will be better able to resist heat buildup. If you have inefficient windows, you could add solar window films or use thermal drapes to improve efficiency. If you can locate and fix any air leaks, this will also help your home to retain a cooler temperature for longer periods.