What is the Most Energy-Efficient AC Setting?

Summertime in Southern California means running the air conditioner non-stop. When the temperatures heat up, the efficiency of an air conditioner drops dramatically. You should not have to sacrifice comfort or drain your bank account to keep your home at a pleasant temperature during the summer.

Many people are good about leaving the air conditioner at the recommended 78 degrees. Some go a step further and set the temperature higher when no one’s home. But is that the best setting?

The following tips will not only ease the burden on your home air conditioner, so it runs more efficiently, but you will also save on your energy bills and reduce your carbon footprint in the process.


Why Does Thermostat Setting Matter?

If your HVAC system is the heart of your home’s air comfort system, your thermostat is the brain. While many factors go into determining your energy efficiency, your thermostat setting is one of the most important. Depending on your setting, your heating and cooling system may strain to meet your demands. That strain will draw additional energy, which can increase your utility costs and reduce your system’s lifespan. The further your thermostat setting is from the temperature outside, the more strain your system will experience, and the more its energy efficiency will drop.

Recommended Thermostat Settings for Summer

Most families find setting the thermostat at 72-73 degrees is ideal. However, if there is a sizeable difference between your interior and outdoor warmth, your cooling costs will be higher.


While at Home: 78 degrees. While that seems too high for many people, there are ways to keep your house cool without having the air conditioning running constantly even while the thermostat is set higher.

Keeping windows and curtains down during the day keeps cold air where it should be—inside. Some window treatments, such as honeycomb shades or plantation shutters, are made to deliver more insulation and better energy conservation.


While Away: 88 degrees. There is no reason to keep the air conditioning going all day while your home is vacant. By raising the temperature by 7 to 10 degrees higher, you can save anywhere from 5–15% on your power costs.

When you arrive home, resist the temptation to drop the thermostat to under 78 to cool your residence more rapidly. This is not useful and usually results in a higher cooling cost.


While Sleeping

Around 70 degrees. Many people sleep better when their sleeping space is chilly, so do a test throughout a week and set your thermostat higher and steadily decreasing it to determine the best temperature for your residence. On pleasant nights, you could learn keeping windows open at night and relying on a ceiling fan is a superior idea than using the air conditioner.


More Tips For Staying Cool

  • Close all doors and windows – This will stop non-air conditioned air, whether hot or cold, from flowing into the room, as well as stop your air conditioner from running for longer.
  • Keep curtains closed – Natural light can help reduce your lighting costs, but when no one is in a room, it’s best to keep the curtains closed during the day. It is especially true for houses with windows facing east and west. Keeping direct sunlight from entering the house helps to reduce the amount of work your air conditioner has to do. To maximize cooling, open the drapes, blinds or curtains in the evening to allow heat to escape through the windows.
  • Keep the area you’re cooling or heating to a minimum – You can do this by closing the doors of other rooms that don’t require cooling or heating. You can also make sure that vents and thermostats in unused areas are sectioned off.
  • Save chores for the right time – While cooking can heat up a room, so can running the dishwasher and clothes dryer. These tasks are better left for the evening hours or, better yet, when no one is home.
  • Turn on a fan – In more temperate climates, you can turn the air conditioner off at night and let ceiling or floor fans provide do all the work. The energy used by fans is far less than that of air conditioners. If you live in a warmer climate, fans can still provide a comfortable breeze at night and may allow you to set the air conditioner above 78 degrees saving a great deal of energy. Fans can also help move cool air around the house to ease the workload of the air conditioner.
  • Ventilate at night or early in the morning – Close the windows during the day and open them at night or in the early morning to let in some fresh air.
  • Turn it off when the temperature outside drops – You can then let the cool air inside by opening the doors and windows.
  • Turn off other internal heat sources – These include lights, computers, printers and ovens. They can add to the heating load, so turn them off when not in use.
  • Get rid of hot air – Use an exhaust fan when cooking to help expel hot air from the house. If you don’t have an exhaust fan, cool the room by using a floor fan in the kitchen while cooking. Fans not only cool the air, but they also help move hot air out of the kitchen.
  • Use a dehumidifier – When people say, “it’s not the heat, it’s the humidity,” they are right. If you have a dehumidifier, turn it on when the temperature rises. Ridding your house of humidity will make you feel a lot more comfortable. You may even be able to set your air conditioner above 78 degrees when using a dehumidifier combined with fans.
  • Ensure good air circulation around the inside and outside units – Remove curtains, furniture or plants that may be blocking the inside unit, and also clean the filter. For the outside unit, remove dust that may be blocking the heat exchanger, as well as plants that are obstructing the airflow.
  • Cover the outside unit from the sun – The ideal location for a central air conditioning unit is on the north side of a house. While this may not always be practical, there are other ways to achieve this. Landscaping does more than make your yard look nice. By planting shrubs or trees around your air conditioning unit, you can help it cool your home more efficiently. The shade from landscaping also helps keep the sun’s rays away from your home.
  • Don’t confuse the temperature sensors and thermostat – If there are other heat sources near the air conditioner, such as a lamp or TV, place them somewhere else so as not to influence the sensors on the wall or unit, as well as the thermostat.
  • Don’t do things that will increase the room’s humidity – Don’t have a long hot shower, mop the floor or dry the clothes. Only do these things in the evening when it’s cooler.
  • Make sure ducting is free of air leaks – Cool air that escapes will cool the inside of your roof rather than the inside of your home.
  • Adjust the temperature depending on the season – Set your thermostat between 24-26°C in summer and 18-20°C in winter. For rooms that are used infrequently (e.g. toilets and storerooms), the temperature should be 16°C in winter.
  • Don’t set your thermostat at a colder temperature than normal – Your home will not cool down any faster and can result in overcooling.
  • Use the economy mode – This will reduce energy usage by maintaining moderate temperatures in the right conditions.
  • If you have a central cooling system, use the zoning options – This will allow air to flow to only certain areas of the house.
  • If you have a central air system, have the fan shut off together with the compressor – Set the ‘auto’ mode on the fan setting to do this and use fans in individual rooms instead.
  • Use energy-efficient lighting and office equipment – They will not emit as much heat as less-efficient products. For lighting, use compact fluorescent light bulbs.
  • Only use it when needed – Your air conditioner should only run when you’re using the room. For commercial buildings, it should be turned off at the end of the business day and on the weekends.
  • Use timers – You can reduce the number of hours the air conditioning system runs for by using timers. The system will switch on when someone enters the room and switch off when they leave the room.
  • Use a programmable thermostat – This is great for commercial buildings, as it’ll turn on the air conditioning system 30 minutes before people arrive and turn it off 30 minutes before they leave at the end of the day.

Perform Regular Maintenance on Your Air Conditioner

Even ENERGY STAR® certified air conditioners need some regular maintenance to deliver their expected efficiency ratings. Because much like your car, your central air conditioner operates more efficiently with routine maintenance and system check-ups. As a part of standard air conditioner maintenance, most homeowners can handle checking, cleaning or replacing the air filter. However, experienced HVAC professionals have the training and the equipment to dig deeper. They can assess system performance, clean and adjust internal components and take care of any minor issues before they become big problems. A professional air conditioner tune-up can help maintain the efficiency of your system with services like:

  • Cleaning the outdoor coil: A dirty outdoor coil affects system performance by restricting airflow and heat transfer needed for proper cooling operation.
  • Cleaning the evaporator coil: A dirty evaporator coil affects system performance by restricting airflow and heat transfer needed for proper cooling operation, and can affect indoor air quality with build-up of mold and bacteria.
  • Checking refrigerant levels: Low refrigerant levels can reduce cooling capability, causing the system to run longer and use more energy trying to maintain comfort.
  • Cleaning and adjusting blower components: Your indoor blower circulates indoor air through the system and returns cool air back to your home. A poorly functioning blower can affect both comfort and energy costs.
  • Installing a smart thermostat: As mentioned previously, installing a smart thermostat can help you more effectively manage your temperature settings. Consider having your dealer install one during one of their regular scheduled tune-up visits.


Final Thoughts

As warm weather approaches, it is important to take a few preventative measures to protect your home through the scorching months. 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 winter, call us on 951-926-1002. You can also visit our Contact page and complete the contact form.