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What Are the Best AC Settings for Summer?

Worldwide, we’ve had one of our hottest summers in 140 years of recording temperatures. In fact, while 59.9 degrees Fahrenheit was the 20th-century average thermometer reading, the reading for June 2019 has averaged 1.71 degrees above that.

Luckily, we have air conditioning to shelter us from the brutal heat, but it comes with a caveat: high utility bills. Do we need to sacrifice comfort to save some money every month?

Read on to learn the best AC settings for summer so that you can stay cool and save some money at the same time!

Determine Your Budget

Before you make any adjustments to your temperature, make an informed choice. Calculate how much you’re paying now at your ideal temperature, and how much you would like to save.

According to Smart Energy, for each degree that your thermostat is set above 72 degrees, you can save up to 3% on your utility bill. With this in mind, estimate how much you would be saving at a bearable temperature, and think about whether this savings cost is worth the adjustment.

The Best AC Settings for Summer

Energy Star, a joint federal program run by the DOE and the Environmental Protection Agency, recommends the following from a 2009 report:

  • 78 degrees when you’re home
  • 85 degrees when you’re at work or away for more than two hours
  • 82 degrees when you’re sleeping

To put it another way, the Energy Department says on its website: “The smaller the difference between the indoor and outdoor temperatures, the lower your overall cooling bill will be.” The DOE also reminds people that setting your thermostat to a colder setting than normal won’t cool your house any faster.

These resurfaced numbers have sparked heated debates online, with many people believing that the temperatures are simply too hot for comfort.

Moreover, some people will argue that it’s more efficient to keep your temperature the same throughout the day. However, in the summer a higher interior temperature actually slows the flow of heat into your house.

If these temperatures sound too hot for comfort, experiment with the minimum temperature you need by adjusting your thermostat one or two degrees at a time. After you let your system adjust to the new temperature, keep lowering it until you find the most comfortable temperature for you.

The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) states that the preferred summer temperature range is between 73 degrees Fahrenheit and 79 degrees Fahrenheit. Within these parameters, you’re bound to find a temperature that everyone in your household can agree on!

Does Energy Star Have Authority?

You may also be wondering whether information coming from Energy Star is credible. The short answer is yes!

Energy Star is a government-backed labeling program that provides simple, non-biased information for consumers on energy efficiency. It originated in 1992 as a joint program of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPAM) and the U.S. Department of Energy (DoE).

The goal of this program is to help people and organizations save money and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. You’ll know that a product or building is certified by Energy Star to be energy efficient if it carries a blue logo.

You can be assured that a product with an Energy Star will save you money on your electricity bill and help protect the environment. This is because they need to meet strict energy criteria set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency or the U.S. Department of Energy.

More Ways to Save Money

There are also other ways you can stay cool while saving money on your utility bill. Turn on your ceiling or box fans. Although they don’t lower the temperature of a room, the wind chill effect can make you feel cooler at higher temperatures.

If you live in an area with moderate temperature, you can take advantage of cooler nights by keeping your windows open and closing them in the morning. You can also:

  • Invest in thick, light-blocking curtains to prevent heat from entering through your windows
  • Keep your home sealed–install or replace old weatherstripping and caulk
  • Limit the use of appliances that generate heat, and try to grill outside as much as possible
  • Replace cooling units with energy-efficient models
  • Utilize portable AC or window units if you don’t need to keep your entire house cool all-day
  • Close off vents to your basement to force air up top first
  • Ensure that you’re regularly maintaining your air conditioning unit
  • Ensure that none of your furniture obstructs the air conditioning vents

Combatting Humidity

If you live in an area with high humidity, keeping cool becomes even more challenging, and it has to do with sweat. Sweat maintains your body temperature by evaporating on the surface of your skin and carrying away heat.

However, your sweat has a harder time evaporating when there’s a high amount of moisture in the air. You can see examples of this when you view your local weather.

An 80 degree Fahrenheit day will feel like 80 degrees if the relative humidity is only 40%. However, let’s say the humidity is 90%. That 80-degree day will feel like a 90 degree one.

Luckily, not only do air conditioners keep cool air circulating around your home; they also reduce the overall humidity. You can help your air conditioner out by doing the following:

  • Keep your ceiling fans on
  • Make sure your unit isn’t too big for your home; if it’s too big, it won’t run long enough to properly dehumidify
  • Invest in a dehumidifier
  • Remember to replace your AC filters
  • Take shorter or colder showers
  • Make sure to use your kitchen exhaust fans

Smart Thermostats

If you’ve applied the above steps, you’re on your way to saving money each month while still living in a comfortable environment. However, you’ll soon find that adjusting your thermostat three times a day can be inconvenient and inefficient.

For instance, you don’t want to come home and wait for it to cool to your optimal temperature. Ideally, you would want your home to be at the correct temperature before then. This is where smart thermostats come into the picture.

You can consider smart thermostats as a simpler, Internet-connected, feature-rich upgrade to programmable thermostats. Many people find programmable thermostats too difficult to program, and Energy Star discontinued certifying them in 2009. As of 2017, Energy Star is now certifying smart thermostats.

Smart thermostats give you the ability to program your temperature and choose what time you want your house to cool down or heat up. That way, you don’t have to deal with the 30 to 60 minute waiting period of your air conditioning system adjusting.

Here are the pros and cons for each type of thermostat if you’re considering the upgrade:

Programmable Thermostats

These thermostats don’t have a connection to the Internet, so you’ll need to program them on the unit itself. Many have a digital interface that allows you to schedule your ideal temperatures at the times you specify.

Programmable thermostats are a cost-effective, simple way to automate your temperature. Although the initial set-up may have a difficult user interface to work with depending on the brand, you can still set it and forget it.

Smart Thermostats

Smart thermostats are more expensive than programmable thermostats, and they don’t work with every home’s existing HVAC system. However, they offer easier and finer control over your HVAC system, as you can program them via your smartphone or computer.

Some come with multiple sensors that you can place throughout the home for more accurate temperature readings. Others can even track your temperature preferences and use that data to optimize and automate your schedule, as well as remind you when the filters need to be changed.

The Best AC Settings for Summer: Saving Money and Staying Cool

As you can see, saving some money every month while remaining comfortable in your home is possible. Through making an informed choice about the amount of money you’d like to save to find your ideal temperature, the summer doesn’t have to be excruciating for your body or your wallet.

Last but not least, switching to a programmable or smart thermostat can save you even more on your utility bills. Automating your system with these AC settings for summer will keep you comfortable year-round without lingering near the thermostat and manually adjusting it.

Ready to optimize your air conditioning system to combat the Seattle heat? Contact us today–we’ve earned the trust of customers for 40 years!



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