The less you use your air conditioning unit in the summer, the more money you’ll save. That much is clear. But, how do you balance savings and comfort?
The rule of thumb for keeping energy costs low, according to the Department of Energy (DoE), is to keep your thermostat at 78 degrees. But, what if you are uncomfortable at that setting? Most people will prefer a lower temperature and run their air conditioning units more often. This is why there has been much debate on this subject, and so here are some other factors you should be considering:
Some people forget that A/C is important not only when it’s hot, but also when it’s humid. Too much humidity can cause health problems (like dehydration) and make you feel uncomfortable.
How much humidity is too much? The American Society of Heating Refrigeration says it’s important to keep humidity between 40% – 60%. Otherwise, allergens in the air, as well as mold, and even bacteria and viruses, will proliferate. Yuck!
How do you reduce humidity? First, try opening a window, unless it’s extremely humid out. Most of the time, indoor humidity will be worse than outdoor humidity, and opening a window can do the trick. But, under the circumstances where it’s just too hot or humid outside for this to be a solution, you’ll need to turn up the A/C unit and aim the vents toward an open window. This will cool your home without making it super dry inside as well.
Overall, turning your thermostat a bit colder, as well as setting it to “auto” (so that excess moisture won’t collect on the coils, due to air constantly blowing over them) is the smart thing to do if your home is humid. Even if it costs a little bit more money!
If you have pets in your house, you may need to keep the A/C turned up. Animals are more susceptible to heat. Why? Well, cats and dogs both have a natural body temperature about 3-4 degrees higher than a human’s. Plus, y’know, fur keeps them warmer in a hot house than you would be. We all want our furry friends to be comfortable, which might mean keeping the temperature under the 78 degrees recommended by the DoE!
Also, here’s another important HVAC consideration to keep in mind if you have pets: changing your air filter more often. Remember, if you have furry pets running around your house, you’ll be exposing your filter to lots of animal dander and fur. This is extra work for the A/C unit and can cause it to wear out faster…So keep an eye on that filter! (It may need to be changed every single month.)
How much is it going to cost you if you keep your A/C unit turned up? You do the math! Here’s how:
For every 7-10 degrees you turn your thermostat closer to the temperature outside, for 8 hours per day, you can save 10% on your monthly energy bills. That means, if you’re willing to turn the temp from 70 degrees to 78 degrees while you sleep, that’s 10% savings. And, if you turn it from 70 degrees to 78 degrees while you’re at work, too, that’s 20% saved! (16 hours a day rather than 8, so double the savings.)
Really, you only need the air to be cold while you’re home, right? And if anyone tells you that turning your thermostat up and down wastes more energy than keeping it the same, they’re incorrect: when it’s hot inside, that slows outdoor heat from getting inside your home. That means it doesn’t actually take much energy to cool your house down after heating it up.
So, there’s really no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to what temperature you “should” set your thermostat at this summer. But one thing is clear: if you want to reduce your household energy use, it’s much better to set your thermostat a bit higher when it won’t inconvenience you (like when you’re out of the house or asleep). It’s important to us here at Dial One Sonshine that you’re comfortable in your home. So if you ever need heating, cooling, or plumbing help here in Orange County, schedule an appointment online or give us a call: (714) 613-1016