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Why “Set it and Forget it” Doesn’t Work when You Leave Your Home for the Summer

Why “Set it and Forget it”  Doesn’t Work when You Leave Your Home for the Summer

Have you heard the “Set it and Forget It” myth of empty home thermostats? It goes something like this:

I just set my air conditioning to 80 degrees when I leave. Seems to be ok, I never really see any problems. Sometimes when we come home in the fall it’s a little warm in the house but other than that….


Why is this a myth? Very simply: because the temperature in the house is not important.

And this method causes 4 problems that cost money and make you sick:

1.Mold and mildew in the spring and fall (not covered by insurance)

2.Wasted money on higher electricity bills in the summer months

3.Higher repair bills since the air conditioning equipment runs all the time

4.Air Filters get clogged sooner also wasting electricity

Caution: a Little Science (but no pop quiz! )

You see, the temperature you set when you live at home is for people, not your piano, artwork, antiques or creepy crawlies like mold and mildew. So you set the thermostat to what keeps YOU comfortable. Since your body notices temperature more than humidity, this 80 degree setting may seem ok.

But your piano, artwork, antiques or creepy crawlies like mold and mildew  ONLY care about humidity. They can’t feel the temperature,  but the humidity is critical.  So if the humidity is high enough for mold and mildew to multiply, the thermostat setting doesn’t matter.

The United States Government Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends humidity levels of 30-50% to prevent the formation of mold and mildew (and stop the side effects like breathing problems in humans).  So if the humidity in your home rises like the air outside, you get mold (which isn’t covered by insurance) and mildew.

So Why Doesn’t ‘Set It and Forget’ It Remove the Humidity well enough?

Set it and forget it does not run the air conditioning enough in the spring and fall to keep the humidity down to healthy, non-mold growth,  levels. Because the outside temperature gets cool at night and doesn’t get that hot during the day, your well insulated home doesn’t warm to 80 degrees (So the air conditioner doesn’t come one). But the humidity rises well into the 70-80% range just like

outside.  So mold and mildew multiplies like rats in this warm tropical environment you so generously provided. Your clothes smell musty, closets smell moldy, and don’t even think what this can do to sensitive older and younger lungs.

What Happens During the Summer?

In the meantime, summer blossoms. You have the thermostat set for 80. As soon as the days become hot on a regular basis, the AC unit will be running a lot. When that happens, the humidity falls, which is good. But the humidity can easily fall even below what is a safe range for your piano, antiques, and artwork- and you pay the bill.  Being overly safe is good, but in this case not necessary and very hard on the electric bill.  If 50% humidity works well, why pay for the AC to keep it well below 25%?  You are throwing money away and endangering your valuable possessions.

So What is the Solution?

Once you recognize that the humidity is important to control, not temperature, you can fix the problem yourself. Buy a hand-held humidity sensor, (preferably professional grade to ensure accuracy) and give it to whoever is watching your house when it is empty. Ask them to adjust the thermostat up or down as needed every two weeks to ensure the humidity range stays within EPA recommended levels. This will save you money and, more importantly, protect your valuable and your grand kids from throat constricting mold and mildew.

If you want Peace of Mind when you travel, call today to see if you qualify for our personal service. 




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