What Temperature to Leave a Vacant House | Constellation (2023)

What Temperature to Leave a Vacant House | Constellation (1)

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    Energy Efficiency
  • Published:
    May 9, 2022
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(Video) Before You Leave Your House Vacant Watch This | 5-Must Follow Tips

You might be leaving home for a vacation. Or perhaps you are a snowbird, leaving your house vacant for the months of winter and your place in the sun empty over the summer.

You might wonder what temperature to leave a vacant house in summer or winter. If you are leaving a house empty, should you leave the heat on or continue to run the air conditioner?

Whether you should turn off the A/C or turn off the heat when not home will depend on the specifics of your climate, the construction of your house and what you keep inside. You’ll want to balance those considerations against the cost of cooling and heating an empty house.

(Video) Heating an Empty House in the Winter

What is the best temperature for an empty house?

To answer the question of what temperature should I leave the heat when away, you should consider your situation. If you are going to be gone for a week or two, turning off your heating and cooling system is best.

That advice comes with some conditions. If you have plants or belongings like electronics, artwork or textiles that are sensitive to severe changes of temperature, you may want to leave the heat or air conditioning on. If you live in a climate that gets extremely cold, freezing pipes are a concern. High humidity can lead to mold in a house without climate control. It will cost you money, but setting a reasonable temperature range on your HVAC might save you over the long run.

What temperature to leave a vacant house in summer

What Temperature to Leave a Vacant House | Constellation (2)

What temperature to leave your house when on vacation in the summer is a matter of some debate. Check the weather before you go to see if a heat wave or high humidity is expected. If you have a smart thermostat, you can make adjustments while away, taking some of the guesswork out of your planning.

What temperature to leave the house when on vacation

What temperature to leave a vacant house in summer while on vacation can range. Most experts suggest the best thermostat temperature settings in summer are above 85°F,

which will still protect your belongings against extreme heat. Running the A/C will reduce humidity and lower the risk of mold growth.

(Video) How to Winterize a Vacant House

Why turning off the A/C doesn’t always save energy for the short-term

You may think that turning off your A/C is one way to save energy in the summer. Since you are not there to suffer through the heat, you might be tempted to turn the A/C off. That may not, however, be the best approach to saving energy in the summer, depending on how long you will be gone. Without A/C, your whole house will heat up, not just the air in the rooms. When you return, your A/C will have to work harder to bring the inside temperature to a comfortable level.

Short-term vs. long-term vacancy recommendations

If you plan to be gone for months, it is worth it to leave the A/C off if you don’t have belongings to worry about and if humidity is not a problem. If you’re going to be gone for a short period of time, set your A/C temperature to the recommended 85°F, which will protect your belongings while still saving energy.

Other cost-effective ways to decrease energy use in summer while away

What temperature to leave the house when on vacation is one aspect of saving energy. You can decrease energy use in the summer while you are away by using some of the tips for how to keep your house cool without A/C. What temperature to set A/C when on vacation can be a little higher if you use these other methods for stabilizing and lowering the temperature in your home.

  • Add ceiling fans, setting them to turn counterclockwise to circulate air
  • An attic fan can draw cool air from lower floors to upper floors
  • Close the drapes to minimize the heating effects of the sun
  • Add reflective film to your windows to help keep the heat from the sun out of rooms
  • Be sure your insulation is adequate
  • Be sure your A/C is running at tip-top efficiency, especially with clean filters

What temperature to leave an empty house in the winter

What Temperature to Leave a Vacant House | Constellation (3)

The question of what temperature should I leave the heat at when away in the winter is an important one. Severe cold can be devastating when it comes to your plumbing. A frozen pipe can burst, potentially causing thousands of dollars of damage. It is vital, if you live in an area that is prone to freezing, to determine what temperature to leave a vacant house in winter.

Minimum heat setting for an empty house

When preparing your home for winter if you plan to be away, the best thermostat settings are between 55 and 60°F. If your winters are mild and freezing pipes are not as much of a concern, you can go lower to 45°F to potentially save money. The size of your house and its layout can make a difference. If you have a large house with rooms that are spread out, you may want to set your thermostat to a higher temperature to ensure that every room with plumbing stays above freezing.

(Video) How to Protect A Vacant Home in The Extreme Cold

Why turning off the heat doesn’t always save energy for the short-term

Do you turn off heat when you’re not home? Is that good? If you turn off your heat entirely, your whole house chills. When you return, you must do more than heat the air.

You must unfreeze your walls, floors and ceilings. When your heat system works overtime, you might not save energy.

Short-term vacancy recommendation: leave on

The answer to the question of what temperature should I leave the heat at when away depends, to some degree, on how long you plan to be gone. In the short-term, it almost always makes sense to leave the heat on and set the thermostat to 60°F. You won’t need to worry about burst pipes and your system will maintain the structure at an optimal temperature.

Long-term vacancy recommendation: leave lower

If you plan to be gone for months, you can choose a lower minimum heat setting for your empty house. If you are not worried about freezing, you can set your thermostat as low as 45°F. You can turn off the water to your home and drain your pipes as a preventative measure, as well. If you are a snowbird and don’t intend to return until the weather is warmer, you won’t have to worry about your heating system having to work so hard to reheat your home.

Other cost-effective ways to decrease energy use in winter while away

Using winter energy saving tips will keep your energy bill down while you are away, no matter what temperature you set your thermostat. Additionally, you may want to consider investing in the most efficient home heating system.

  • Be sure your system is running efficiently by getting a professional check up
  • Clean your ducts and replace your filters
  • Add insulation to pipes and your hot water heater
  • Beef up the insulation in your home
  • Check weather stripping, adding and replacing where necessary

Will turning my thermostat down & up while I’m away from home make it work harder once I’m back?

It’s a logical argument: if your home temperature is much lower or higher to save energy while you’re gone, does it make it less energy efficient to make it go back to its original temperature when you come back? The answer is: no! According to the Department of Energy, your cooling or heating appliance will work just the same amount to bring it back to its original temperature once you’re home again.

(Video) Vacant house protocol for heater settings


What temperature should an empty house be left at? ›

What's the Best Temperature for an Empty House? Luckily, you don't have to heat your home much to protect it from the elements. You can keep a vacant house at 50-55 degrees Fahrenheit to keep it safe.

What's the coldest you should let your house get? ›

The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends setting your thermostat no lower than 64 degrees (F) in the Winter months while people are in the home. If there are infants or elderly individuals, they recommend keeping the temperature at 70 degrees at a minimum.

What should I set my thermostat to when I'm not home in winter? ›

Since you won't be home to enjoy a comfortable indoor temperature (most homes set their thermostats between 65°–75° during the winter), there's no sense in making your heating system work hard to maintain that comfort level. Instead, you can lower your thermostat to be in the 50° to 60° range to save money.

Is it harder to keep an empty house warm? ›

No, according to energy experts. The DOE recommends adjusting your thermostat by 10 to 15 degrees when you're leaving for several hours. (Also, for maximum savings, your thermostat should be set to 78 degrees in the summer and 68 degrees in the winter when you're at home.)

Is 65 too cold for house in winter? ›

Even if you keep your temperature between 60°F and 65°F, your home or apartment may not be warm enough to keep you safe. This is a special problem if you live alone because there is no one else to feel the chilliness of the house or notice if you are having symptoms of hypothermia.

What temperature should I keep my heat on so pipes don't freeze? ›

Regardless of how long you will be traveling and away from home, keep your thermostat set at 68 degrees Fahrenheit or above. This will help to keep the pipes on the inside of the home from freezing and the ones under the home at a slightly higher temperature as well.

Should air conditioner be left on in vacant house? ›

Turning Off Your A/C Is Not a Good Idea

We suggest turning on your unit when you leave home for vacation. It's important to note that air conditioners are designed not just to provide cooling, but also to control indoor humidity. The optimal humidity level in your home should be 50 percent.

Can you leave a house unheated in the winter? ›

While you will want to save money on utilities, you can not leave a house unheated in the winter. Keep your utilities on, and follow these tips before going out of town: Set your thermostat no lower than 55°F before you leave to avoid having your pipe freeze.

Should you turn off water in a vacant house? ›

Pipes, water heaters and other appliances can leak, or in freezing weather, pipes can freeze and burst, which can cause major damage in a home left unattended. If you are leaving for an extended period of time, the best protection is to have the water shut off and the water lines drained.

How do you winter proof an empty house? ›

Home Alone: How to Prepare Your Home for Winter Vacancy
  1. Turn off the water supply. The most important thing you need to do, especially if you're leaving for the entire winter, is shut off your water supply. ...
  2. Drain the waterlines. ...
  3. Insulate pipes. ...
  4. Turn down the heat. ...
  5. Unplug all appliances. ...
  6. Throw out the trash.

Will pipes freeze at 65 degrees? ›

The temperature inside the walls - where the pipes are located - is substantially colder than the walls themselves. A temperature lower than 65 degrees will not keep the inside walls from freezing.

What temperature do most people keep their house in winter? ›

Popular Science agrees 68 degrees is a normal temperature for the winter and suggests layering clothing as a way to stay warm in the cooler house temperature.

Can a cold house make you sick? ›

Cold homes contribute to excess winter mortality and morbidity. Most of the health burden can be attributed to both respiratory and cardiovascular disease, especially for older people. In children, the excess winter health burden is mostly due to respiratory disease.

What temperature in house will pipes freeze? ›

As a general rule of thumb, in order for your home's water pipes to freeze, the outside temperature needs to be below 20 degrees, for a total of at least six consecutive hours.

What temperature inside house will pipes freeze? ›

Pipes are at risk of freezing when temperatures drop below 32 degrees Fahrenheit, but they most commonly freeze at temperatures of 20 degrees and below. (Keep in mind, wind chill increases the risk of freezing.)

Do hot or cold water pipes freeze first? ›

It is a strange thing that hot water pipes freeze quickly than cold water pipes. By increasing the temperature of your house, you can attempt to unfreeze the frozen pipe. The development of ice cubes is more complicated because of high temperatures, and hot water pipes are more undoubtedly to crack.

What temperature should an unoccupied house be kept at in summer? ›

What temperature to leave a vacant house in summer while on vacation can range. Most experts suggest the best thermostat temperature settings in summer are above 85°F, which will still protect your belongings against extreme heat. Running the A/C will reduce humidity and lower the risk of mold growth.

What should I set my AC to when im away? ›

Ideally, you should set your thermostat to somewhere between 80 and 85 degrees while you're away on vacation. For most people, this is still warmer than the temperature they would have their thermostat set to while they're at home while simultaneously helping to keep humidity at bay.

How long can you leave your house vacant? ›

Typically, home owners can leave their home unoccupied for up to 30 days (say, for an extended trip) with no need for added insurance. If you're going to be away for longer, inform your insurance company.

What do you do when you leave your house for 6 months? ›

Securing Your Home When You Are Away
  1. Lock All External Doors, Windows, and the Garage. ...
  2. Don't Hide House Keys. ...
  3. Ask Neighbors and the Police To Watch. ...
  4. Set Programmable Light Timers. ...
  5. Activate Motion Activated Outdoor Floodlights. ...
  6. Window Blinds, Visible Valuables, and Safe Deposit Boxes. ...
  7. Stop the Mail and Newspaper Deliveries.
27 Jun 2016

Should you turn off water heater in a vacant house? ›

First, turn off the electrical or gas service to your water heater. If you drain it but don't shut off the gas or electricity, you can risk burning out the heating element which can cost about $60 to $70 to repair.

Can you leave a house empty for the winter? ›

If your home is vacant, you need to find the right middle ground on the thermostat. If it's too cold, you increase the freeze risk. If you keep it too warm, you risk wasting money and energy. As a general rule of thumb, leave the heat on and set your thermostat between 55 and 60 degrees.

How do you protect an empty house in the winter? ›

Follow the checklist below to help avoid any unwanted surprises when you return.
  1. Turn off the water supply. ...
  2. Drain the waterlines. ...
  3. Insulate pipes. ...
  4. Turn down the heat. ...
  5. Unplug all appliances. ...
  6. Throw out the trash.

How do you keep an unoccupied house? ›

10 Tips for Protecting a Vacant Home After You Move
  1. Lock and secure all windows and doors. ...
  2. Give a neighbor or friend an extra key. ...
  3. Take care of your yard. ...
  4. Install motion detector lights. ...
  5. Remove valuables from the home. ...
  6. Keep home security system sign out front. ...
  7. Keep your alarm system up and running.
23 Jan 2018

What can I use an empty house for? ›

There are plenty of choices: you could let it out, sell it, renovate it... or you could move in and call it home! What you do with your property is ultimately up to you, but usually it will hinge on your personal finances, future housing plans, taxes, and the current real estate market.

What do you do when you leave your house for 3 months? ›

7 Things to Do before Leaving Home for a Long Vacation
  1. 1) Tidy Up. ...
  2. 2) Put the Mail and Newspaper on Hold. ...
  3. Best Travel Destinations (Amateur Traveler Podcast)
  4. 3) Target the Refrigerator. ...
  5. 4) Save Electricity. ...
  6. 5) Turn off the Main Water Supply. ...
  7. 6) Schedule Lights. ...
  8. 7) Take Safety Measures.

How often should an empty house be checked? ›

Empty homes are also more appealing for drifters, thieves, and vandals. This is why an empty home can void a home insurance policy. In order to minimize the risk, insurance companies often require a home to be checked in on every 48-72 hours.

What happens when a house sits empty? ›

Structural Damage

Generally, these happen because AC and heat are turned off, and there's no one to manage the condition of the home. The other issue here is that when no one is living in the home, there's no one to notice early signs of damage, especially when it comes to things like water or pest damage.

Why do unoccupied houses fall apart? ›

Abandoned buildings decay quickly for a number of reasons, including leaks and damage in the ceiling and floor, a lack of maintenance and external factors, such as animals and the ambient weather.

Is it better to show a house empty or with furniture? ›

Since you probably won't make the money you spend on staging back, it's better to leave your home empty. However, staging makes a big difference in low-cost markets. In Omaha, Nebraska, vacant houses sold for 7.2% more if they still had furnishings. That's a $15,000 difference, so it's worth shelling out for staging.

Is it better to stage a house or leave it empty? ›

Staging a home makes it visually more appealing and allows potential homebuyers to envision how the home might look once they move in to it, making it look more move-in ready. Having furnishings and wall hangings in place is often more inviting than empty rooms and blank walls.

How do you make an empty house look good to sell? ›

Tips for selling an empty property
  1. Make the most of your kerb appeal. ...
  2. Make sure your property is clean. ...
  3. Get those windows sparkling. ...
  4. Visit the property weekly. ...
  5. Keep the heating running. ...
  6. See it as a blank canvas. ...
  7. Make the most of the space you can see. ...
  8. Empty homes can't hide issues.
1 Dec 2019


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