Air conditioning is a great modern invention that allows you to enjoy the benefits of warm weather without having to deal with overheating in your home. This can help you sleep better, be more productive, or just plain relax.
However, air conditioners require a lot of energy — and they need to run continuously to provide the benefit you want. This is not only a problem for your wallet, as their energy usage costs more money than almost all other household appliances, but it’s also an issue for the environment. More energy typically involves more carbon dioxide emissions, and a greater strain on our shared climate.
To help you save money and stay eco-minded, we’ll cover the best ways to enjoy summertime AC temperatures. We explore what the recommended home thermostat settings are for summer, what you should set your thermostat to for optimal energy usage and comfort, and how to reduce the energy cost and environmental impact of using your AC unit.
To What Temperature Should I Set My Air Conditioner In the Summer?
According to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), the recommended temperature setting for your home in summer is 78 degrees Fahrenheit. This may seem a little high — or even downright uncomfortable for some — but it’s based on several factors that aim to optimize the energy usage and environmental impact associated with summer AC cooling.
The DOE also recommends changing your thermostat and AC settings depending on the time of day and whether or not you are in your home. The recommended rule of thumb for summertime is to set the temperature to 78 degrees Fahrenheit when you’re home and higher when you’re away. In general, set it to 82 degrees Fahrenheit when you’re asleep and 85 degrees Fahrenheit when you’re away.
Is 72 Degrees a Good Temperature for Air Conditioning?
Everybody’s temperature preferences differ, though most people will probably set their AC units somewhere in the 70s. However, just because this is the most comfortable temp doesn’t necessarily mean it’s “good” — it depends on the context in which you use the term.
If you want to feel good, as in comfortable, many people will want to lower their thermostat to the low 70s in summer. But if you’re talking about saving money on energy and limiting your environmental impact, 70 degrees Fahrenheit is a very bad temperature for your AC to reach.
Because AC units require so much energy, and outdoor summer temperatures tend to be much hotter than 72 degrees, it takes a lot of energy to bring indoor temperatures down to this level. In fact, for every degree you cool your home, it could result in an increase of more than 1% in your total monthly energy costs. Cooling your home to 78 degrees rather than 72 degrees can cut your electricity bill by more than 25% in summer.
What Is the Highest Temperature I Can Set My AC to and Still Feel Comfortable?
This is more of a personal question, as different people feel comfortable at different temperatures. Since 72 degrees is generally agreed upon to be an ideal indoor temperature, most people would probably still feel comfortable setting their AC units slightly higher than this, perhaps at around 75.
Many people will not feel completely comfortable keeping their thermostat at the recommended setting of 78 during summer months, but there are things you can do to make your home feel closer to your comfort level even with the AC set a little higher than your preferred temperature.
Use Your Windows to Keep You Home Cool and Keep Heat Out
Airflow is good for cooling your home — heat flow into your home is not. Ensure that your windows allow fresh air inside when opened, particularly in the early morning and evening when the air is cooler. Also, make sure your windows are properly insulated. Doing so not only keeps cold air out during the winter, but it also keeps hot air from coming in and conditioned air from escaping during summer months.
Operate Your Thermostat and AC Unit Efficiently
Your thermostat should not stay set at the same temperature all the time. It’s best to set it higher when you’re away and only lowering it when you’re home. Also try to avoid setting your thermostat lower than normal when you turn on the AC — it will not actually cool the ambient temperature any faster, and it will result in extra energy costs on your monthly bills.
Utilize a Programmable Thermostat
If you want to operate your thermostat and AC unit efficiently, without constantly making manual changes, try a programmable thermostat. These automatically raise the temperature when you leave and lower it before you return home.
Use Ceiling Fans
Using ceiling fans results in less energy needed for cooling, which leads to lower utility costs and a lower electricity bill. But remember to turn them off when you leave the home. Fans only cool people — they do not cool rooms. It’s a waste of energy to leave them on when nobody is home as they do not make any difference to absolute air temperature. They only affect ambient air temperature as felt by people (or pets, if they are in the home).
Improve the Ventilation in Your Home
Cool air needs to circulate. Increasing ventilation allows for cool air to move freely and will allow you to keep your thermostat and air conditioner at a higher temperature without your home feeling as hot.
Use a Dehumidifier
Dehumidifiers reduce humidity in your home, which will make the air feel cooler without actually needing to be kept at a lower temperature. But be careful not to use as much energy running these appliances as you save minimizing AC usage, otherwise it would defeat the purpose. You can do this by keeping the setting on low and only using them in areas of your home that need it the most.
Keep Your Air Conditioning Unit Efficient
Air conditioners work best when they are both energy efficient and cooling efficient. Try to keep your AC unit clean and functional so it can provide efficient cooling without needing excess run time or energy to reach desired levels of cooling.
Replace Your Lighting
Believe it or not, certain types of home lighting can actually increase the air temperature indoors. These types of lights are not only creating more heat, but they are energy intensive and consume a lot of electricity. Switching them for more efficient bulbs will lower your home’s temperature in summer while saving you money on utility bills.
How Cool Should My Home Be If It’s Over 100 Degrees Outside?
Just because the outdoor temperature is above 100, the Ideal temperature to set your AC unit to doesn’t change — it’s 78 degrees. Higher temperatures in the home are to be expected when the weather is hotter than usual, but your thermostat can still be set the same as if it were a lower temperature outside.
What Is the Ideal Home Temperature for Winter?
In winter, the best temperature for your home is different than in summer. With the lower temperatures outside, homes are naturally cooler — and heating becomes the issue, rather than cooling. Your thermostat should be set at 68 degrees in the winter, according to the DOE.
Air Conditioner Temperature and Energy Usage
It’s no secret that air conditioning units consume a great deal of energy. The more you use them, the more energy they consume — and the colder you have them set, the faster they consume energy.
This can have a serious impact on your energy bills, with utility costs rising significantly in direct correlation with AC usage. While there are AC units that are better when it comes to energy efficiency, AC-related energy savings still comes down to setting the temperature to a reasonable level and turning units off or up when not in use.
How to Save Energy While Still Enjoying AC
It’s crucial to save energy, but sometimes it’s also important to use air conditioning, especially on very hot summer days when the heat can make being inside your home unbearable. Some energy saving tips that will allow you to still enjoy your AC include:
- Allow for a temperature range when setting your thermostat — be willing to adjust slightly up or down when needed.
- Utilize a smart thermostat to keep your AC turned off or set to a higher temperature when no one is home.
- Open your home to allow for central air to flow through the entire space — this goes for windows to the outside, as well as doors inside.
- Choose an Energy Star air conditioning unit when it’s time to replace your current unit.
- Incorporate your AC into a larger cooling system for your home to rely less on the AC unit — try using a dehumidifier along with ceiling fans, for example.
Keep Your Home Comfortable This Summer
In spite of the cooling costs of AC and the increased environmental impact associated with their usage, air conditioning is still a central part of keeping your home comfortable in the summer. If you take all the proper steps, such as setting your thermostat to 78 degrees and allowing for proper ventilation and airflow, you can keep your living space comfortable even in the heat of summer — without having to worry about excess environmental impacts or running up your electric bills for months on end.
It’s also important to make sure you get your electricity from utility companies, like Tara Energy, that provide efficient and responsible power to your home. Running AC units will always require energy — so it’s best to get that energy from a reliable source you can trust.
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