Managing Your AC While on Vacation
With summer in full swing, homeowners are getting ready to go on vacation and spend time with family and friends. Its important to prep your home to make sure nothing unexpected occurs. We get many phone calls from clients wondering if they should turn their AC on or off while away. Here is some food for thought and some answers to make sure you have a great stress-free vacation.
There are several factors to consider when pondering whether to shut off your AC or keep it on. We agree with the most widely recommended option which is to turn the thermostat up while away, not off. We explain below.
Check the local forecast for the time you will be on vacation as weather plays a vital role as to deciding to leave the A/C on or off. The summer months in Virginia can be very hot and/or humid so we suggest keeping your AC on. This will help to compensate for the high temperatures in your home.
Length of Your Vacation
If you’re only going to be gone for a short time, just a day or two, it’s better to keep the air conditioner on but set at a higher temperature. Cooling an empty house to the temperature you'd normally be comfortable at while home is unnecessary. You'll save energy and keep the humidity level under control by leaving it on.
This is when a programmable thermostat comes in handy. These nifty little devices allow you to set the desired temperature at varying times so that it kicks on and off automatically. Set the thermostat between 7 and 10 degrees higher than normal while you’re away.
You can also reduce the strain on your air conditioning unit by closing the curtains before leaving. This will block the afternoon sun and help keep your home a bit cooler.
Know Before You Go
Homes with ample attic insulation, lower air infiltration and efficient windows have a higher resistance to heat buildup and stay cool even in the hottest of temperatures. 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.
Making sure your air filter(s) are changed and all registers and interior doors are open so the air can circulate is a very important step. 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. Also, air flow restriction can cause your ac system to leak water or fail.
Here are a few other helpful steps to take before you head out on vacation. These measures will help you save some energy and keep your home safer while away.
Turn off the main water supply if a long vacation
Schedule a neighbor or landscaper to water indoor/outdoor flowers and plants
Leave ample food and water for any pets that will remain at home
Plan for daily mail pickup by a friend or neighbor
Save some power by unplugging electronics
Leave a light on or use a timer to light rooms
We always suggest leaving your AC on while you are away. Turning off your system during the summer months is a recipe for disaster and could cost you expensive repairs.