What Temperature Should I Set My Air Conditioner in Summer?

Keep Cool: What Temperature Should I Set My Air Conditioner in Summer?

by | Energy

You’re too cold, the kids are sweating, but the dog seems just fine — welcome to the intricacies of air conditioning management. 

Everyone has an opinion on thermostat settings and comfortable temperatures. The good news is that you can take several steps to find the best temperature for you and lower your electricity bills

Air conditioning units account for around 6% of all electricity used in the United States. But such usage doesn’t mean we all find our ideal comfort level. And heavy users can anticipate increased energy bills — so comfort can come at a cost.

Learn how to keep your home cool during the summer months without worrying about a large electric bill. So, the next time you ask yourself, “To what temperature should I set my air conditioner in summer?,” you can come back to this guide. 

What Are the Recommended Home Temperatures in Summer?

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) recommends setting your summer thermostat to 78 degrees Fahrenheit when you are at home and need cooling off in the summer. However, AC temperature settings will vary greatly, depending on where you live, how well insulated your home is, the time of day, and your desired comfort level.

As a rule of thumb, try to keep the difference between indoor and outdoor temperatures as small as possible and within 20 degrees. For example, the DOE estimates that maintaining your home at 85°F for eight hours a day during the hottest part of the day could save you 5-15% on cooling costs.

You can drop the temperature at night. A National Institute of Health study found that the best temperature for sleeping in the summer is between 60 and 67 degrees Fahrenheit.

But, finding the optimal temperature at all times while aiming for lower utility bills could require a little more effort than following government guidelines.

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To What Temperature Should I Set My Thermostat?

Different temperatures offer varying comfort levels to different people. The “best” thermostat setting will depend on several factors. Your home should be cool enough for you to feel comfortable wearing suitable seasonal clothes — you should not need to wear sweaters or long pants, or use blankets indoors.

Firstly, you need to discover your ideal temperature range — everyone is different. Start at a lower temperature, say 70 degrees Fahrenheit, and see how you feel. Then set it at a higher temperature, perhaps one degree higher. Keep raising the temperature by one degree until you reach a point where you no longer feel comfortable. 

Let’s imagine you had reached 82 degrees Fahrenheit and then felt uncomfortable at 83 degrees — that means 82 degrees is a good temperature setting for you.

But, beware of the sweat factor. Try not to lower temperature settings when you are exercising at home or arrive home from exercising because you will overly cool the house. Most people sweat when exercising, and feel hot. The temptation is to exercise in a colder atmosphere to sweat less. However, because you feel hot, you may reduce your home’s temperature too much. Remember that sweating during exercise is normal and happens to people even in winter in cold countries.

The same is true when you return home from exercising and are very warm. It’s better to gradually cool down rather than try to use air conditioning to cool you very quickly.

Also, don’t crank the thermostat to a lower temperature than your comfortable setting when returning to a house that’s warmer than usual. Your home won’t cool more quickly, and you could overly reduce temperatures and add dollars to your utility costs.

Should I Buy a Programmable Thermostat?

Programmable Thermostat | Should You Buy?source

A programmable thermostat is a great tool to help you regulate your home’s temperature in summer. They start from around $40, and Energy Star estimates they can save you at least $50 a year on your cooling bills. In comparison, the DOE thinks most homeowners could save up to 10% a year on their energy bills with a programmable thermostat.

A programmable thermostat allows you to keep your central air conditioning at a higher temperature setting when you’re away from home. It can also be programmed to lower the temperature in time for your return. As a result, your house is warmer while you are away but cooler when you’re present, saving you money on bills with no impact on your comfort levels.

You can also set preferred temperature patterns for when you go to sleep, wake up, return from work, and so on. There are many options for programmable thermostats at a range of prices.

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What’s the Difference Between a Programmable and a Smart Thermostat?

A programmable thermostat relies on you setting its schedules and temperatures. A smart thermostat can learn your schedule and temperature preferences, balance temperatures around your home, and even change temperatures to account for when no one is home. 

Smart thermostats are more expensive, starting around $60 and going up from there. Pricier models may connect to an Alexa device or smartphone, help adjust humidity levels, track energy consumption, and even allow for voice-control.

How Cool Should My House Be if It’s 100 Degrees Outside?

Many HVAC and AC unit installers recommend a difference of 20 degrees Fahrenheit between your home’s indoor temperature and the outdoor temperature. Should the thermometer hit 100 degrees outside, you should set your air conditioning temperature to 80 degrees Fahrenheit.

Very cooled homes lose temperature much more quickly than homes closer to the outdoor temperature. This is because your air conditioning has to work harder to keep the building cool — the airflow of warmer outside air moves much quicker into a colder room.

In contrast, the warmer the indoor temperature, the slower the airflow of warmer air from outside. As a result, the closer the indoor temperature is to the outdoor temperature, the fewer times your air conditioning will run, so you’ll use less energy.

Should You Use the Air Conditioning or Ceiling Fan?

Ceiling fans are an excellent complement to air conditioning. Ceiling fans do not lower your home’s temperature, but they create a breeze that makes the room feel fresher. We sweat to help reduce our body temperature. The sweat and moisture on our skin evaporate, and this process helps us feel cool.

The airflow from a ceiling fan speeds our evaporation process, helping us to cool down. The DEO estimates you can raise your thermostat 4 degrees Fahrenheit higher and feel the same comfort level by using a ceiling fan in conjunction with air conditioning.

Ceiling fans are also an excellent way to save money on utility bills. Fans use a lot less electricity than air conditioning and allow you to run your AC unit for shorter periods. For example, this Monte Carlo ceiling fan uses 23-40 watts compared to 500 watts for a small window AC unit and up to 3,500 watts for central air conditioning systems. 

Top Tips on How To Use Your Air Conditioner in Summer

Ensuring prime operation of your air conditioning for a cool summer indoors is a combination of knowing how to use it and making sure you look after your system. It’s a good idea to get your AC unit checked by a certified professional in spring to avoid any issues when the temperatures start to rise. In addition, it’s worth asking them if you have the right-sized system for your home’s needs.

Make sure your thermostat is clean, and no wires are loose. Also, consider its positioning in your house. For example, the thermostat won’t take accurate readings if it’s close to a heat source like a fireplace or next to a cool breeze from an open window. Even being close to everyday items like TVs and lamps can throw a thermostat off course.

Energy.gov recommends keeping the difference between the indoor and outdoor temperatures as small as possible. When you come home, don’t set the air conditioning to a cold setting. It won’t cool your home more quickly and may cost a lot more in energy usage. Use zonal air conditioning if your system permits, cooling only the rooms you need to use.

Humidity can make your home feel warmer than it is, so your air conditioning unit needs to work harder to cool your house. If your air conditioning doesn’t have a built-in dehumidifying system, consider using one in conjunction with your air conditioner.

How to Keep Your House Cool In Summer

Energy efficiency is not just about reducing your HVAC use, changing the temperature settings, and using practical programming. There are many more energy-saving tips you can use to save dollars and keep cool in your home in the summer.

What’s more, some of these tricks can also help keep the heat in during winter, doubling your energy efficiency savings. 

Top Tips for a Cooler House in Summer

Cool Summer Housesource

Work your way through this list of tips to stay cool indoors during the summer.

  • Fit window coverings to block sunlight and its heat from entering your home through windows. All those old Meditteranean houses have shutters for a reason.
  • Open windows at night to let cooler air into your home.
  • Use bathroom fans to remove heat and humidity when you shower or bathe, and make sure they vent outside your home.
  • Caulk doors and windows and replace old weatherstripping to seal your home. This keeps cool air in and hot air out during the summer to help your air conditioning work more efficiently. In winter, well-sealed homes keep the heat in and the cold out. 
  • Limit heat-generating appliances like the oven or stove until later in the evening. Any kitchen fans should vent outside.
  • Change high heat-emitting light bulbs for ones that operate at cooler temperatures.
  • Ceiling fans keep people cool thanks to the breeze they create. Unfortunately, their motors also generate a little heat, so turn them off when you are not in the room.
  • Ensure your external AC unit is clear from debris, plants, and fallen leaves, which may affect its performance.
  • Maintain your air conditioner with regular filter changes, duct cleaning, and timely inspections from qualified technicians. Faulty components can make air conditioners work harder and further wear down already worn elements. Spring and fall are good times to schedule maintenance and avoid peak demand seasons. 
  • Consider upgrading any old or inefficient air conditioning units with modern, energy-efficient models. Energy Star recommends checking the efficiency of any units more than 10-years-old. You may see 20-40% savings on energy bills by replacing it with a newer, more efficient model.

Energy Star’s certified system gives AC units a Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER) and Energy Efficiency Ratio (EER) rating. The higher the rating, the more energy-efficient the AC unit. Also, check their 2021 list of energy-efficient air conditioners.

What Is the Ideal House Temperature for Summer and Winter?

As we mentioned, in summer, it’s best to keep the difference between the outside and inside temperatures as small as possible, and ideally, no more than 20 degrees Fahrenheit difference. The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) recommends aiming for an inside temperature of 78 degrees Fahrenheit in summer.

In winter, the DOE suggests 68 degrees Fahrenheit as the indoor temperature to aim for, letting that drop lower when you are asleep at night.

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What Is the Average Air Conditioner Temperature?

While the DOE recommends 78 degrees Fahrenheit for the air conditioner temperature in summer, everyone has different comfort levels. Most air conditioning suppliers will recommend a setting of between 72-78 degrees Fahrenheit while you are in the house.

You can let this temperature rise when you are not in the house by using a programmable thermostat. 

Answered: What Temperature Should I Set My Air Conditioner in Summer?

You no longer need to ask yourself, “To what temperature should I set my air conditioner this summer?” You know how to stay energy efficient and find your ideal comfort level by slowly increasing your AC setting. 

Combining your air conditioning with a programmable thermometer, ceiling fans, maintenance, and a well-sealed home can save you money in the long run. So look forward to enjoying a comfortable home this summer by keeping your air conditioning well-maintained. And remember, you may be able to save more money by comparing electricity rates, too.

Use your AC smartly, and you can keep your energy costs down, keeping yourself and your bank account balance within your comfort levels.

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