What Is the Ideal Temperature for Home Air Conditioning in the Summer?

Girl sitting in front of fan

A good central air conditioning system can be the thing that makes your summer bearable. Without one, temperatures in the home can quickly soar to dangerous levels. Without air conditioning, you may feel sick to your stomach during the hottest days of summer, or you may have trouble falling asleep at night. Cooking meals might become a strategic game where you try your best to keep the oven off until the sun goes down.

There is a downside to a central air conditioning system, however. It’s the amount it can cost to run it, day in and day out. Cooling your home can cost a pretty penny, especially if you have the thermostat set too low. By striking a balance between your comfort and your wallet, you can come up with a temperature that keeps you cool without making you want to puke when you see the bill.

The Perfect Temp When You’re Home

When you’re at home hanging out with your friends and family, comfort is probably the name of the game. This is especially true if you work a traditional day job out of the home, particularly if you work the day shift. If you’re only at home for a few hours of the day, it makes sense to turn down the temp so you can enjoy that small window of time in comfort.

The best guideline to go off is that put out by the U. S. Department of Energy. They recommend you keep your thermostat set to 78 degrees Fahrenheit during the summer. This is a great baseline temp that will allow you to stay cool and comfortable without raising your energy bills too much. At this temperature setting, you may still struggle with the humidity in your home. Purchasing a whole-home dehumidifier can help your home feel less sticky.

The Perfect Temp When You’re Out for the Day

Keeping your thermostat set to 78 degrees this summer will already save you a significant amount of cash. By setting the thermostat even higher when you’re out of the home, you have the potential to save even more money.

It’s best to only turn up the temperature if you know you’ll be out of the house for two hours or more. The best time to turn up the temp is before a long shopping trip that’ll take most the afternoon or right before you leave for work in the morning.

So, how many degrees should you crank up the thermostat? Seven to 10 degrees is a good guideline. A jump of this much can save you up to 10% of your typical energy costs for the season. Keeping your home at 85 to 88 degrees Fahrenheit when you’re out is a smart move.

You might think it would take a long time for the temperature to creep downwards once you arrive back home, but that’s not true. The higher temperature in your home means heat leaks in less quickly.

Fine-Tuning Temperatures for Your Individual Needs

If you don’t think that the standard recommendation for 78 degrees applies to you or your family, try doing a little experiment. Set your thermostat to the low 80s for a few hours and see how you feel. Lower the temp 2 degrees every few hours and take note of how you feel at each temperature, stopping right around 70 degrees. The temperature you settle at will depend upon your comfort levels and the type of clothing you tend to wear around the house.

Another area you have a little room to play with is nighttime temperatures. Many people sleep better when they’re cooler and will lower the temp before they go to bed. This has merit if you sleep in pajamas and a sheet or blanket. If you sleep without clothes or blankets, you can save some money by raising the temperature into the 80s. Experiment here as well and see what temperatures allow you to get a good night’s rest.

By taking the time to see which temperatures are actually right for you, you’ll be able to stay cool and comfortable all year. You may spend more in energy costs if you’re someone who can’t stand the heat, but at least you’ll know the excess spendage is needed for your quality of life.

What Matters More: Heat or Humidity?

Humidity can make an otherwise pleasant day feel unbearable. When the air is rich in moisture and humidity, sweat doesn’t evaporate off your skin as easily. This leaves you feeling hotter than ever, drenched and covered in sweat that just won’t go away. While an 80-degree day with low humidity really feels like 80, when the humidity rises, the heat index can raise an additional 5 degrees with it.

Most AC systems do a good job at tackling the humidity in your home, keeping it at a good 30–50% humidity. This level keeps your home comfortable and prevents things like mold from growing. If your AC is still leaving your home humid, it may be old, too big for your home, or need work done on it. Fans can help you cope while you figure out a solution, as they help wick sweat away.

Maximizing Your AC’s Efficiency

If you want to keep energy costs down but still want to keep your home at a slightly cooler temperature, there are some simple tricks you can do. These all involve keeping the cold air in the home and the hot air out.

  • Use ceiling fans whenever possible.
  • Limit appliance usage until 8 p.m. or later.
  • Make sure your home is weather sealed.
  • Hang blackout curtains.
  • Upgrade your AC system.

Save Money With a Programmable Thermostat

All of these tips are useless if they’re not actually implemented. It can be almost impossible to remember to change the temperature every morning before work and every night before bed. If you forget, energy costs can quickly get out of control.

A programmable thermostat eliminates this problem and helps you actually save money. They’re inexpensive to purchase, easy to install, and you won’t be able to remember life without one. You can have temperature settings for different times of day that reflect your schedule.

For example, if you know you leave for work at 7 a.m, your thermostat can be programmed to raise the temperature right after your departure. If you know you’ll be home every day around 5 p.m., an hour or so before you get home, your thermostat can begin making your home more comfortable for your arrival.

Keeping Cool With Integrity Heating and Cooling

At Integrity Heating & Cooling, we offer both commercial and residential services. We’re the leading provider of HVAC services in the Charlotte area, and our trained staff is ready to serve you. We offer both heating and air conditioner repair, installation, and maintenance services. If you’re interested in any of these or in finding out more ways you can keep your home cool this summer, feel free to give us a call and schedule an appointment today!

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