Thermostat Settings for Summer Efficiency and Heat Waves

When summer is in full swing and it is time to switch on the air conditioning, you may find yourself trying to compromise between energy efficiency and comfort. As the temperature begins to rise again, varying your temperature by a few degrees can make a world of difference on your electric bill while still keeping your family cool during the Southern California heat waves.

While many Southern California homeowners and renters are concerned with using less energy to run air conditioning equipment, it is hard to save energy and save money if you do not set the thermostat correctly. We make many mistakes when it comes time to set the thermostat in summer because we do not always know what temperature to set on our programmable thermostats. The thermostat in summer holds to key to home energy efficiency, so it is time you figure out the right thermostat settings to use for different times of day and situations.


What Temperature Should I Set My Programmable Thermostat?

No one likes sweating while relaxing at home, just as no one likes to wear a sweater and scarf in July. Setting your thermostat to the ideal temperature in the summer will go a long way toward keeping everyone comfortable while preventing your energy bill from skyrocketing.

Many Riverside County residents find their own balance between energy use and comfortable cold air. These tips help you know the temperatures to choose when turning your thermostat up or down for efficiency and comfort, as well as how to adjust and set thermostats for the perfect balance.


  • When You Are Home

76° is a good target for your thermostat setting when you are at home. If you are used to having your home at 72°, that likely sounds too hot. Your family will likely not protest as much if you increase the thermostat setting by 1 degree each day. That allows everyone to acclimate to the higher temperature.


  • When You Are Away

80° is the recommended setting when you are away from home. For the 8 hours that you are at work, raising your air conditioner by 5° can save 5-10% in your energy consumption.


  • When You Are Sleeping

72° is the maximum sleeping temperature recommended by the National Sleep Foundation. If that is too warm, try using a ceiling fan at night to cool your body down. Body temperature naturally falls during sleep, and most people can handle a warmer temperature setting during these hours.


  • When Away on Summer Vacation

85° is the perfect house temperature when you leave on vacation. That is a moderate temperate that will allow air to circulate properly. If you have a smart thermostat or one you can control with your phone, start the cooling process about 4 hours before you return home. If you do not have a smart thermostat, ask a neighbor to help out.


How Can You Get More Out of Your Thermostat?

To maximize home comfort and energy savings, it might be time for a thermostat upgrade. Consider one of these options, especially if you want to adjust interior temperatures depending on time of day and occupancy.

  • Smart thermostats connect to your home’s WiFi system and self-adjust based on a programmed schedule or the daily weather. Many allow you to place motion sensors in each room so you only cool or heat a room when it is occupied.


  • Programmable thermostats typically function with an app so they can be controlled remotely, although simpler models require you to program the settings at the wall thermostat. They allow you to program indoor temperatures based on household usage.


  • WiFi thermostats connect to your home’s wireless internet service and let you remotely check and change the temperature from an app on your smartphone or tablet.


Balance Energy Efficiency and Comfort

Raising your thermostat temperature a few degrees higher than normal means the cool air indoors will not require such a drastic temperature difference from the heat outdoors. When you close this gap, you reduce the cooling load on your air conditioner.

Every degree you set heating and cooling systems higher than normal, you stand to save 3 percent on your energy bills. You will likely find that your room does not need to be cooler just for you to feel comfortable – there are many other ways you can help your body feel like the room is at a lower temperature.

If you are used to running a cool schedule for programmable thermostats, you may experience some discomfort if you crank up the temperature several degrees right off the bat. Instead, take things slow and schedule your thermostat to increase temperatures by just one or two degrees each day. Stop when you find the setting where any higher would make you feel too warm.


Ways to Stay Cool Inside Without Lowering the Thermostat

If you want to save on your energy bills this summer, here are some ways to keep cool without changing the thermostat.

  • Dress appropriately for the outside weather, even if you are inside. If you are too hot, put on a pair of shorts instead of adjusting the temperature.
  • Close the blinds to keep out the sun and heat. Consider investing in thermal window film for windows that face south. These can block UV light and keep your home cooler.
  • Use ceiling fans. Data shows that ceiling fans can make a room feel up to 4 degrees cooler.
  • Position your home office in the right place. If you are working from home, your electricity bills are 8-10% higher than normal. Keeping your office on the north side of your home can help you stay cool. Your office will be on the side of your house with the least sun exposure.


Keep an Eye on the Humidity

High humidity can turn a normal hot day into something much more challenging to endure because your body’s sweat glands do not work as efficiently when there is a lot of moisture in the air. Sweat works to maintain body temperature by evaporating from your skin and carrying away body heat. When the air is dry, your sweat dissipates readily and you feel more comfortable. However, as humidity rises, the increased water vapor in the air makes it more and more difficult for your sweat to evaporate, leaving you even hotter even while you’re drenched in moisture.

Air conditioners are extremely good at reducing the relative humidity, especially if your home is air sealed and has vapor barriers in the basement or crawlspaces. If you are counting on your AC to eliminate the humidity, make sure your unit is not too big for your home, because the system will only need to run for a short time to cool the house, and will not be on long enough to dehumidify.

A dehumidifier can help you achieve lower humidity if you want to save your air conditioner some of the burden. You can also supplement your air conditioner with personal fans and ceiling fans, which blow air across your body to aid evaporation. While fans do not actually lower the temperature of a room, they make it feel cooler by taking a bite out of the humidity.


Final Thoughts

As warm weather approaches, it is important to take a few preventative measures to protect your home through the scorching months. If you follow the Spring HVAC Maintenance Checklist above, your air conditioner will be in a prepared state entering the Spring and Summer months. That’s a pretty nice place to be if you ask me!

You can always count on the Aire-Tech to keep your home cool. Perhaps you need repairs, new thermostat installation, or preventative maintenance—whatever the HVAC issue is, Aire-Tech is ready to help. If your system needs repair or inspection before summer, call us on 951-926-1002. You can also visit our Contact page and complete the contact form.