What Should My AC Be Set At
Everybody is aware that air conditioning offers a refreshing escape from the excruciating Florida year-round heat. But, settling on a temperature to maintain in your home may require a delicate balance between the comfort of your family and your energy cost budget. Simply put, the lower your set your AC, the higher your energy bills will be. However, there are some tips and tricks that can help you to find a temperature that keeps you and your family comfortable while saving you money.
The Best Thermostat Settings For When You’re Home
To stay comfortable and save money, the U.S. Department of Energy recommends setting your thermostat to 78F when you are home. By setting your AC to this level, you allow yourself and your family to stay cool and avoid unusually high electricity bills. Investing in appliances such as dehumidifiers also can help provide extra comfort. As well, you can follow our tips below to trap cool air in your home to increase comfort and lower costs in the blistering South Florida climate.
The Best Thermostat Settings For When You’re Away
As unpleasant as it is to hear, keeping your house warm while you’re away can help you save money during the hot Florida seasons. Turning your thermostat up seven to ten degrees higher while you are away (out of the house for more than two hours) you can save up to 10 percent on cooling costs! This means leaving the thermostat at around 88F. The higher interior temperature actually slows the flow of heat into your home, decreasing the amount of energy needed to cool it back down when you return.
Tips for Cooling
While 78F might sound a bit uncomfortable, there are things that you can do to prevent warm/hot air from getting in and the cool air getting out of your home:
- Hang up window treatments. Window treatments can block out sunlight and prevent heat from entering through the windows of your home.
- Install fresh and replace old weatherstripping. Caulk around doors and windows to keep your home sealed and insulated.
- Limit the use of appliances that generate heat such as the oven and stove. Try to keep use of these appliances minimal until 8pm. Grill and cook outdoors as much as possible to keep the heating appliances out of the home.
- Utilize ceiling fans and stationary fans to increase cooling efficiency.
- Replace cooling units with energy-efficient models.
Tips for Finding The Right Temperature
Finding a temperature that is comfortable and tolerable to your family is important, especially in the summers in Florida. By setting your AC to around 81F and slowly dropping the temperature to 71F, you’ll be able to gauge your family’s range of comfort and find a setting that works for everybody in the house. According to the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE), the preferred thermostat setting for occupants of a home, in summer clothing, is about 73F-79F.
Something many people don’t think about is how the nighttime can be another opportunity for money and energy conservation. When you sleep, your body temperature lowers and heat leaves the body. Studies have shown that the best sleep happens when the body reaches “thermoneutrality,” which is when temperatures around the body reach a certain temperature (86F if nude or uncovered; 60-66F if covered by a sheet or pajamas). By raising your thermostat and using lighter bedding and sleepwear, you have an opportunity to cut down on costs. Fans are also helpful for conserving energy during the hot South Florida nights.
High humidity can turn a tolerable hot day into something more challenging to endure. In South Florida, we are no stranger to high levels of humidity, especially during the summer. When it’s humid, your body’s sweat glands don’t work properly, making it difficult for your body to regulate its own temperature. When it is dry, your sweat evaporates quickly allowing you to feel more comfortable while dealing with the heat.
This means that the humidity inside of your house has a direct impact on your comfort, especially on hot days. It’s recommended to have a humidity level of 30 to 50 percent during the summer to prevent mold and pests. By reducing the humidity in your home, you are able to be more comfortable at a warmer temperature in your home. Luckily, air conditioners are good at reducing the relative humidity of your home. If you plan to use your air conditioner as a dehumidifier, it’s important to make sure your unit isn’t too big for your home. If it is, the system only runs for a short period of time to cool the house, and won’t run long enough to dehumidify.
Alternatives to using your AC, dehumidifiers can help you achieve lower humidity while saving energy usage and wear on your unit. You can also supplement your AC with fans. Fans blow air across your person to aid sweat evaporation and increasing comfort. While fans don’t actually lower the temperature of a room, they make it feel cooler by taking away from the heat and humidity.
Calculating Your Savings
Before coming to a final decision about what your ac should be set at, make sure to calculate your costs. Each degree that you are able to raise your air conditioning saves you up to 5 percent on your cooling costs. For instance, if you normally set your AC to 72F and you’re paying about $150, by raising the temperature to 76F you could reduce your bill by $25.
Even if you decide it’s worth the money to keep your home cooler, which on the hot summer days it may be, there are steps you can take to squeeze out savings. Dehumidifiers are useful investments on the hot and humid South Florida days. Utilizing personal and ceiling fans can also help.