It seems unnecessarily wasteful and expensive to keep your house cool while you are not there, especially in South Carolina’s hot and humid summer months where high temps keep your air conditioning unit running consistently throughout the day. However, turning your AC unit off completely while you are out may not only make it more uncomfortable when you get home, but end up costing you more as well.
In order to save energy, lower your electric bill and keep your home in good condition, you’ll want to adjust your thermostat while you are out of the house, even if it is just the 8-10 hours a day while you are at work. In fact, the U.S. Department of Energy claims that you can lower your heating and cooling costs by 10% by adjusting your thermostat 7-10 degrees while you are gone during the day. If saving energy isn’t compelling, saving dollars certainly is!
Let’s say you typically keep your thermostat set between 72-78 degrees during the summer months, occasionally bumping it up or down a couple degrees as needed. This seems to be a fairly average home cooling temperature range, but this may vary due to personal comfort preferences.
If you plan to be gone for 8-10 hours, adjusting your thermostat to 79 or 80 during the hottest part of the day, especially in South Carolina’s climate, could significantly lower your cooling costs. Set the thermostat higher than 7-10 degrees, and your AC may struggle to return your home to the desired comfort setting.
It seems logical that if setting the thermostat higher saves money, well, wouldn’t turning it off completely save the most? This is not recommend for a couple reasons. First, air circulation in your home is important. Leaving your AC unit on allows for proper airflow and circulation. Your HVAC system also controls for humidity, so leaving your home with your system off, especially in a humid month like June, July or August, may increase the likeliness of indoor humidity, condensation and mold growth.
So what’s the drawback to adjusting the thermostat to a warmer temperature while you’re gone? Well, unless you have a programmable thermostat, you will likely come home from a long day at work to an uncomfortable home. Returning your living space to 72 on a hot day may take some time, and if you are planning to cook dinner and turn on some hot appliances in the process, things could become quite uncomfortable for a while longer.
The solution is a programmable thermostat, which allows you to create set schedules for turning your heating or cooling on and off and adjusting temperature settings. For example, one programmable setting may be for AC while you are at work during the day. For this you may choose to have the thermostat moved from 72 to 78 between 7AM and 3:59PM and then back 72 at 4PM, giving your AC an hour to cool your home to a comfortable setting before you arrive at 5PM.
Programmable thermostats generally allow for multiple pre-set schedules, giving you the energy and cost savings of keeping your house warmer while you’re gone, without the inconvenience and discomfort of returning to a hot house.
Keeping your thermostat at the highest temperature that still allows for you and your family’s comfort is always the most economical. Obviously, the closer the indoor air temperature is to the outdoor air temperature, the lower your your cooling costs will be. To find out more about how to manage your home’s comfort while keeping your bank account comfortable as well, please contact a Cooper Mechanical Services professional today.