In a recent blog post, we talked about the benefits of having a smart thermostat installed for your HVAC system. We highly recommend making this upgrade to your home comfort, but we can help you right now with advice on “smarter” settings for the thermostat during summer.
Many homeowners play fast and loose with thermostat settings in hot weather, raising and lowering them based on momentary comfort. This wastes energy and won’t lead to optimal cooling. We’ll tell you how best to set your thermostat this season and why these techniques will help save money while keeping your household comfortable.
The thermostat is a switch not a throttle
This is an important fact to know about thermostats because it will help you understand why keeping steady with the settings is a good idea. The thermostat is a switch that determines when the AC and blower in the HVAC system turn on and off. It’s not a throttle, where the lower you set it, the more cooling the AC puts out. Lowering the setting only means the AC will run for longer (as the same power level) to reach the temperature target. You won’t get faster cooling or more powerful cooling if you knock the thermostat down to 63°F—you’ll end up with a house that’s too cold and have spent a lot more money to get there.
Higher settings slow heat gain
Here’s a second vital fact to help you know how best to run the thermostat. During hot weather, the outdoor heat naturally moves indoors to where it’s cooler. This is called heat gain. The bigger the difference between the temperatures, the faster the heat gain. This is why setting the thermostat higher can actually help a house stay cooler for longer: it slows down the speed that heat moves into the house, and in turn requires less work from the air conditioner to remove it again.
The best thermostat settings
Explanations out of the way, we’re now at the good stuff. The ideal temperature setting for a thermostat during summer is 78°F during the day when people are home, and 8° to 10° warmer at night or when the house is empty.
Although 78°F is cool enough for most people to feel comfortable, it can at first feel a bit warm for some. In this case, we recommend you lower the thermostat a few degrees, and then gradually increase it by one degree a day until people acclimatize to the new setting of 78°F.
If you’re wondering why you should bother to keep the AC running at any temperature when nobody is home, even if it’s warm 88°F, it’s because it takes much less energy to cool down the house when people return. Just leaving the air conditioner running occasionally to maintain a warm temperature consumes less power than trying to pump out all the heat from a house that’s far too hot.
As a reminder, all this work with ideal thermostat settings is easier with a Wi-Fi / smart thermostat in Yakima, WA. You can get your home cooled down to 78°F before you get back home.