[Advice] On or Off? What to Do With Your A/C When You’re on Vacation

Now that summer is kicking in to high gear, you’re probably packing your bags to beat the heat with a well-deserved vacation. Before you leave, you might be wondering if you should turn off your home’s A/C to save energy. You aren’t the only thing that’s in the summer sun, and the answer depends on a few factors.


Your home is much more than a set of rooms, and the things inside of it have to be considered when you leave for vacation. Most computers and TVs are set to operate at the same temperatures as the human body. If your home becomes too hot, electronics inside of it may be ruined. Repetitive heating will lessen the battery life of your computer and could ruin the delicate parts inside. Your cooling appliances, like your refrigerator and freezer, will also have to work harder as your home heats up.

Vacation Time

No matter what, turning off your air conditioner will save you money. But, the energy saved from a short trip (think: one or two days) will be negligible compared to the energy your unit will have to expend rapidly cooling your home when you return. Instead of turning off the A/C when you leave, try turning your thermostat setting up a few degrees while you’re gone. Your unit will be working less during your trip, and it won’t have to work as hard to cool your home when you return.

During longer vacations, turning off the A/C may still be preferred. The energy saved during the extended trip will most likely outweigh the energy needed to cool your home when you return.

Environment and Efficiency

Depending on your home and your location, you might need to keep your A/C running regardless of how long you’ll be gone.

Not only does air conditioning keep your home cool, it also keeps humidity levels low. If you live in an area with high humidity, turning off your A/C will leave your home vulnerable to mold and musty smells. Wooden furniture and some indoor paints are also vulnerable to humidity and can warp or peel if left alone long enough.

In less extreme climates, checking the extended forecast can be enough for your trip. If no extreme temperatures are on the horizon, switching the A/C off may be just fine.

Temperature and humidity also depend on your home’s insulation. If your home has been efficiently insulated and is well sealed while you’re away, the inside will stay cool and dry.

You’ll save money whether you decide to turn up your thermostat or turn off your A/C while you’re away, but the best choice relies on your home. Take stock of your home and listen to your local weatherperson before you set off on your next vacation. You’ll be able to make the best choice when you are the most informed.