With the ease of covid restrictions and summer now in full swing, homeowners are going on vacations in record levels. Virginia Air Heating and Cooling receives many phone calls with people asking the question, “I am going on vacation, what should I do with my ac?” Managing Your Central A/C While on Vacation There are several factors to consider when planning your vacation getaway and prepping your home. How long will you be gone, what is the weather forecast for that time frame, will someone be staying in the home or coming by to check on things, grab the mail or walk the dog(s)? If you know you will be gone for any extended length of time, MAKE SURE YOUR AIR FILTER IS CLEAN! If you are not sure if your filter is considered clean or dirty, change it anyway to be safe. This small maintenance step can be the difference between no ac, water damage and worse yet, a $5000-$10,000.00 cost to replace HVAC system! While you are gone, setting the thermostat somewhere between 78 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit is what we usually suggest. This will put some extra strain on your central A/C to return your house to a more comfortable temperature but you'll still save energy and keep the humidity level down to avoid mold and/or mildew growth just by leaving it on at a higher setting. If you want to help reduce some of the strain on your air conditioning, leave your window and door glass coverings closed while you are gone. This will help block the afternoon sun and keep your home a bit cooler. Times like this is when a programmable thermostat comes in handy. These smart devices allow you to set the desired temperature at varying times so that it kicks on and off automatically. Programmable thermostats contribute to energy savings by slowly raising the temperature over a period of time to your desired setting. WiFi programmable thermostats allow you to adjust your temperature from an app on your computer or phone. Just don’t ask your thermostat to reach 70 degrees in 15 minutes when your home is 80 degrees already! Keep in mind, not every programmable thermostat is designed for your particular system.
Weather Check the local forecast for the time you will be away. The outdoor weather is key to leaving your A/C on or off when no pets or people will be home. If the weather will be relatively mild in both heat and humidity, it may be best to simply turn the A/C off since there is a minimal risk of heat or humidity building up indoors. Keep in mind other factors in your home that maybe affected by heat and humidity are appliances, wood floors, live plants and furniture. Efficiency The overall energy efficiency of your home will also help determine if you should turn your cooling system off while away. Homes with ample attic insulation, lower air infiltration and efficient windows have a higher resistance to heat buildup. Adding solar window films or thermal drapes can help improve inefficient windows. If you can minimize air leaks, your home will be able to retain cooler temperatures for a longer period of time. Protecting Other Parts of Your Home Keeping the air circulating in your home while away will help the system do an important part of its job — that is, keeping the humidity down inside. Moisture holds heat, which will make your system work harder to cool down the home upon your return. In addition, the extra moisture can impact other features of your home, including wood floors, doors and cabinetry. Other Steps to Prep Your Home for Vacation Here are a few other helpful steps to take into consideration before you head out on vacation. These measures will help you save some energy and keep your home safer while away. · Save energy by unplugging electronics · Leave an LED light on or use a timer to light rooms
· Schedule a neighbor or landscaper to water indoor/outdoor flowers and plants
· Provide a family member, friend or neighbor with access to your home in case of an emergency
· Plan for daily mail pickup by a friend or neighbor
If you will be gone for more than a couple of weeks, you may want to consider turning off the house main water supply, indoor shut-offs to outdoor hose faucets and the electrical breakers to individual appliances like the central humidifier, microwave, dishwasher, clothes washer and dryer and possibly the well pump if you have a well to help prevent these items from power surges and/or possible failures that will cause damage to them. These measures should be thought out so as not to affect other systems in the home like gas or electric water heaters needing water, back- up generators that may need gas, fresh-air intakes that may require your HVAC fan or system to run, attic or crawl space exhaust fans that require electricity and radon or any other specialized equipment in your home.
As you prepare to go on your vacation, it is important to plan for how to manage your household while you are away. Your Home is one of your largest assets and protecting it should be a priority. Your HVAC system is a large contributor to keeping the inside of your house protected from the outside elements. When deciding whether to turn the A/C on or off while on vacation, take into consideration all the factors above. This will help ensure you are making the best choice for your specific situation and needs while preparing your AC system and any other home systems for your time away.