Most homes have a thermostat to control their HVAC system, but we’ve found that people often don’t understand the best way to use it. If your normal way of using the thermostat is just to lower it whenever you feel hot during the summer and then raise it when it gets too cool, then you’ve probably been wasting energy running your AC too often.
The good news is that learning energy-saving techniques with your thermostat is straightforward. Once you know a bit more about how the thermostat controls the air conditioner, you’ll see how to set it for the best comfort and ideal energy conservation.
The thermostat is a switch not a throttle
This is the basic analogy we use to explain what the thermostat does. It determines when the AC and blower fan turn on and off, just like a switch. But when people run the thermostat up and down throughout the day, they’re treating it like a throttle: the more you push the setting down, the “more” cooling you get.
But because the thermostat is a switch, a lower setting doesn’t mean a greater volume of cooling is put out at a faster rate. It only means the air conditioner will run longer to reach the lower temperature setting. If you put your thermostat down at its lowest setting (60°–63° depending on the model), you’ll force the AC to run for longer, draining more power to reach a setting that’s too cool for comfort!
Heat gain is an important factor
One more important fact to know about the thermostat and your home’s comfort: the closer the indoor temperature is to the outdoor temperature, the slower the house gains heat from the outside. So the higher you raise the thermostat, the slower your house will warm back up. The goal is to find the right balance of indoor comfort and a higher thermostat setting that slows down heat gain for maximum energy conservation.
The ideal summer settings
We took a slightly longer route to get to this point, but we think that once you understand why certain thermostat settings are better, it’s easier to remember them.
So here are our summer thermostat recommendations, which are also the recommendations of the US Department of Energy:
- During the day when people are home: 78°F
- At night or when the house is empty: 88°F
Most people will find 78°F perfectly comfortable. If this still seems like it might be too hot, we advise you to lower the setting a few degrees, and then raise it by one degree a day until you reach 78°F or find the right temperature for the household.
The 88°F setting applies even if you leave your home for several days or weeks on a vacation. This prevents your house from overheating, which can cause damage to furnishings and possessions. It also makes it easier for you to cool the house when you get back home: it requires far more energy to cool off an overheated house than to use a bit of energy to keep it warm until you return home.
If you need any assistance with your air conditioning in Yakima, WA this summer, we’re here to help.
Call ThermAll Heating & Cooling, Inc: We are “Your Home Comfort Hero!” We serve the greater Yakima and Ellensburg areas.