Summer Conundrum: Should I turn my A/C off to save energy?

We’re on the heels of summer, but that air conditioner is still getting use, we’d be willing to bet. And we’re also willing to bet that some form of the following thought has come into your head at least once during the summer:

“Should I turn my air conditioner off before I leave? Or would I actually end up saving more energy if I just let it run?”

Seems like everyone and their mother knows the correct answer to that question, but the answer is always different! Makes it pretty hard to actually make a concrete decision when you’re standing in front of the thermostat and scratching your head.

Well, we’ve decided to examine this summer conundrum and give our thoughts. Assuming you have a programmable thermostat, let’s take a look at the dueling theories:

Theory 1: Leave the air conditioner at the same comfortable temperature all day, even when you go out.

The thought here is that your air conditioner will work less throughout the day. If you did the opposite and turned the air conditioner off when you left for work and then turned it back on when you got home, it would be working hard to get your home back to that desired temperature. Why not just leave it on all day and keep it a stable temperature?

Theory 2: Turn the air conditioner off when you leave, turn it back on.

The idea here is that the air conditioner will be working hard either way, so you may as well save some energy. What’s the point of keeping the home cool if no one is home? It’s just wasted energy at that point.

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While both theories have their merits, we’ve got our own take on the conundrum. If pressed, we’d have to go with Theory 2: Turn the air conditioner off when you leave, turn it back on.

We understand that it might seem like the air conditioner is working too hard to get the house cooled back down to your desired temperature once you arrive back home and turn it back on. But air conditioners actually run more efficiently when they’re running at full speed, rather than short periods of time at less powerful speed. You’ll save more energy in the long run by turning your air conditioner off.

If you don’t want to come home to a sweltering home, you can always just turn your thermostat to a higher temperature. We recommend 78 or higher.

Here are some more tips for cooling down the home in the summer:

  • Ceiling fans. These are great for moving air across a room and when used in tandem with an air conditioner, you’ll get an even cooler home. Just don’t leave it on when you’re not in the room! That’d be a waste of energy.
  • Open windows. When we get closer to autumn, try opening just a few windows in your home — not all of them. If you open one window a crack on one side of the house and another window a crack on the other side, you’ll create a good crosswind.
  • Do some planting. Large trees or bushes planted strategically around the home can actually reduce heat-gain. Talk with a landscaper for more information on which sides of your home would be most optimal.

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