Sweating your way through another Central Texas summer? If you’re looking to your air conditioner for relief, you may have wondered about the ideal temperature setting that will keep you cool without sending your energy bill into overdrive. Is there a perfect number that will fit the bill in every situation? The answer is yes and no. We can tell you what the experts say, but there are still some nuances and variables you’ll want to take into account before adhering to the suggested advice. Let’s break this question down a bit.
The “Perfect” Temp
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, 78 degrees Fahrenheit is the best temperature setting for your home. This setting is generally believed to keep occupants comfortable while not taxing your system or your wallet too much. Of course, only you can decide what makes your household “comfortable”. Does 78 feel too cool? Lucky you! Feel free to set it a few degrees higher. It’s estimated that every degree above 78 will cut your utility bill by 6-8% over the summer, so if you can stand the heat, go for it.
Too Darn Hot
More likely, you might feel that 78 degrees isn’t quite cool enough — but you’re still serious about trying to save money. Here are a few tips to help you feel cooler in a warmer house:
- Install window treatments that block sunlight and keep them closed during the day. Keeping out the light (and the heat) of the sun can work wonders to help your home stay cool.
- Check the caulking around windows and doors. Stand outside and see if you can feel cool air escaping through cracks. Keep everything sealed tight to keep the heat out and the cold air in.
- Avoid using heat-generating appliances during the heat of the day. Wash clothes and dishes at night, when it’s cooler. Try to grill outdoors as much as possible rather than adding the heat of the stove and oven to an already warm house.
- Install ceiling fans in every room and use them to help circulate air.
- Depending on the outdoor temperature, open windows at night to allow cool air to circulate, then close them in the morning to trap that air inside.
Still too warm? Turn your thermostat back down until you find the place where you’re comfortable. Every few days, raise it one degree. You might find that your body will adjust to the warmer temperature if you increase it gradually.
Since U Been Gone
When you leave the house for more than two hours, don’t turn the AC off completely –but don’t leave it running as usual either. Instead, raise it by ten degrees (if you have pets at home, make sure you’re not making it too warm for them). This will cut your cooling costs by 10%. If you have a programmable thermostat, you can cool the house back down to a pleasant temperature before you walk through the door. (If you don’t have a programmable thermostat, contact your HVAC professional about the pros and cons of installing one.)
Don’t lose your cool this summer! Finding the temperature setting that works best for your family will make the next few months more bearable — both on a day-to-day basis and when you receive your monthly bill.