How to Find the Right Temperature for Your Air Conditioner

It’s a common question that we hear often: what’s the right temperature for my home? The answer is relatively straightforward but has some room for interpretation. This is because there are multiple factors to consider, and when it comes down to it, everyone has a different definition of “right” when it comes to temperature. Here’s a guide for how you can come to your own conclusions about the best temperature for your air conditioner and your home.

Factors to consider

The fact is, there’s no one right answer to the question of what temperature your air conditioner should be. Here are factors to consider when it comes to determining the right temperature for your air conditioner.

Cooling costs

You can save as much as 10% a year on your utility bills by turning your thermostat anywhere from 7-10 degrees higher than you usually set it. For example, going from 70 degrees to 77 degrees. On the other hand, lowering your home’s temperature can increase your annual cooling costs by as much as 47%. If saving money is a priority, you should aim to lower your cooling costs by setting your thermostat higher. The U.S. Department of Energy recommends the following as the ideal thermostat settings to maximize cooling and energy efficiency:

  • 78 degrees when you’re home during the day
  • 85 degrees when you’re away from home
  • 82 degrees when you’re sleeping

While the above is an ideal scenario, it’s not a one size fits all solution. You’ll need to take into account things like usage patterns, the condition of your air conditioner, and more in order to determine the perfect temperature for your home.

Usage patterns

Do you work from home, or spend most of your day out and about? Do you frequently travel for a weekend away, or regularly host guests? These questions, and others, influence where you should be setting your thermostat. If you’re at home all day, or someone in your family is, you’ll likely want to set the thermostat lower for comfort purposes. But, if you’re out of the house during the peak of the day, you can get away with setting the thermostat higher.

Air conditioner wear and tear

Consistently setting your thermostat to low temperatures forces your air conditioner to work harder in order to cool your home. This speeds up the wear and tear of vital components, and can result in you needing to replace your air conditioner much earlier than normal. You’ll also see an increase in how much energy your home is using, and higher utility bill charges as a result.

If you’re looking for extra low indoor temperatures during the summer, you’ll likely be disappointed. A well-maintained air conditioner is only designed to lower the temperature in your home by about 20 degrees. That means that if, for example, it’s 85 degrees inside on a particularly hot day, your air conditioner will be able to get your home to 65 degrees, but it will likely run itself into the ground trying to reach 60 degrees. This is something to keep in mind as you start thinking about finding the “perfect” temperature for your home.

How your thermostat can help

Your thermostat can be your biggest ally when it comes to finding the ideal comfortable temperature for your home. That is, as long as you know how to use it to your advantage. Programmable and smart thermostats have a major advantage over manual thermostats in terms of fine-tuning temperature.

Programmable thermostats

Programmable thermostats allow you to set the temperature of your home according to your schedule. This makes it easy to set one temperature in the morning, one during the day while you’re at work, and one when you return home for the night. You can even take it a step further and specify different temperatures depending on individual days. For example, you can set lower temperatures for Saturday/Sunday if you spend more time at home on the weekends.

With a programmable thermostat, you can guarantee your home is always at the right temperature at any given time. You won’t need to worry about temperature fluctuations or about the impact of forgetting to turn the air off before you leave for work in the morning. This saves time, money, and energy.

Smart thermostats

Smart thermostats take the time and energy saving potential of a programmable thermostat and add a “smart home” twist. Smart thermostats are wifi-enabled devices that can “learn” from your usage patterns and your lifestyle in order to automatically adjust your home’s temperature without any input from you. This takes the guesswork out of finding the perfect temperature. If you do want to change the temperature on your own, you can do it from anywhere with the help of your smartphone.

Still warm? More ways to cool down

Even if you’ve found the ideal temperature to maximize the efficiency of your air conditioner, you may still find yourself feeling warmer than you’d like. If this is the case, fear not.. There are additional easy (and inexpensive) ways to cool your house and your body.

Cool your home with ceiling fans

In the summer, ceiling fans should rotate counterclockwise, allowing them to push cool air down to the floor. The cooling wind chill effect from a ceiling fan can make a room feel up to 8 degrees cooler. This can flip your internal sense of your home’s temperature from “warm and stuffy” to “cool and comfortable”.

Close the blinds

Up to 30% of unwanted heat in your home comes from your windows. Shades, curtains, and blinds can lower indoor temperatures significantly—by up to 20 degrees. Keeping the summer sun at bay by closing your blinds is also a great way to prevent a sweltering “greenhouse effect” from plaguing your home.

Focus on internal temperature

Controlling your internal temperature is just as important as controlling the temperature of your home. Without even touching the thermostat, you can convince your body that it’s several degrees cooler in a number of ways.

Stay hydrated

Water is the fuel your body needs to avoid dehydration and maintain a cool and comfortable temperature. Drinking cold water will help you feel cooler and make you less vulnerable to the negative effects of the heat, including heat exhaustion or heat stroke. Keep a water bottle with you at all times and drink from it throughout the day, as opposed to drinking liquids like soda and juice that won’t do much to hydrate you.

Sleep low and light

Instead of lowering your thermostat before bed, try these ideas to stay cool without increasing your utility bills. First, remember this principle of physics: heat rises. That means that lofted and lifted beds are going to feel much warmer than beds closer to the floor. If lowering your bed isn’t an option, there’s no harm in opting for the couch or a bed on the floor during particularly warm nights.

The second thing to keep in mind when it comes to sleeping during the summer is that less is most certainly more when it comes to pajamas and bedding. Ditch the big comforter and opt for a quilt or a cool sheet. Fabrics like bamboo cotton are best for comfy, breathable pajamas and bedding that stays cool all night long.

Chas Roberts: the right temperature, every time

From troubleshooting your thermostat to scheduling annual maintenance, our skilled HVAC professionals ensure superior service each and every day. Contact us and trust Chas Roberts to be your guide through the world of HVAC.