Keep your home cool with this setting for your air conditioner (and other tips)
According to the Department of Energy, you should set your air conditioner temperature to 78 degrees Fahrenheit. This setting keeps your home cool while keeping your electric bill down. Going from 78 to 72 can increase your bills by nearly 50 percent. Or, you can keep it at 88 degrees if you’re going away for a few days or longer. Then, there are more ways to keep your home cool without increasing the AC.
Why is 78 degrees the best setting for an air conditioner?
With your air conditioner set to 78 degrees in the summer, you’ll keep your home reasonably cool while also addressing humidity (more on that later). Plus, the closer you set your thermostat to the outside temperature, the less the system has to work to reach the level you want. Sure, you’ll feel a difference if you set your air conditioner to a lower temperature. But, it’s a matter of diminishing returns after that. The lower you set the thermostat, the higher your energy bills will get. But, you may not feel all that much of a difference. 78 degrees, in that sense, is a sweet spot between cool and cost-saving. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to make your home more comfortable without hiking up your electric bill.
What if my home is still too hot?
Of course, it’s tempting to keep setting that thermostat lower and lower - especially around July and August. That’s when the temperatures peak. Fortunately, you can still improve the climate in your home without skyrocketing the electric bill or running your AC into the ground. Three ways to keep your home cooler in the summer without spending much money are:
Replacing your air filter
Optimizing your fans
Keeping out the sunlight
Replace the air filter
First off, if you’re concerned that your AC isn’t keeping you cool enough, make sure it’s working at its best! And, the air filter is the first thing to check. The air filter, or screen, traps debris, dust, and other small contaminants as they pass through the system. It prevents them from circulating through the air or damaging the equipment. But, eventually, that screen becomes clogged. When that happens, air can’t pass through it to flow through the system. When this happens, your air conditioner works harder to provide circulation. But, sometimes that’s not even enough. Then you end up with higher bills and less treatment. The air just isn’t reaching the coils to get cooled. So, a first, easy step is pulling out that filter and putting in a new one. If you haven’t done so in a while, it’s probably pretty full. See if that makes a difference.
The best ways to cool your house with fans
Ceiling fans, box fans, desktop fans - these all helped cool homes before central AC. And, they still have their place now. When you optimize your fans, you can use them alongside air conditioning to keep your home from getting too hot. First, make sure ceiling fans are set to run counter-clockwise. The hotter it is, the faster they should go. This setting pushes cool air down from the top of the room toward the floor. It creates a chilling effect. And, in general, it helps circulate the treated air from your AC.
Keep out the sunlight
Finally, you can stay cooler by staying in the shade. Draw your curtains and pull down your Venetian blinds during the day. Doing this won’t block out the light completely. But, it will keep out a lot of heat-generating rays from the sun. The trick is to turn the blinds, so they’re tilted up. The rounded parts should face outside. This way, you still get some light. But, it comes in pointed toward the ceiling. It pushes the heat up from the room. A bonus: You get more privacy than with the blinds facing down. It’s harder to see in from outside when they’re facing up.
Humidity and the ideal air conditioner settings
Humidity is a crucial part of home comfort in the summer. When you’re looking for the ideal air conditioner setting, you also need to consider how well your system decreases humidity. The more water vapor is in the air, the hotter you feel. That moisture makes it harder for your body to expel heat, which keeps you warmer. And, warm air naturally holds more moisture than cold air. So, the hotter it is, the more potential there is for humidity. Removing water vapor from the air is part of the air conditioning process. When the coils cool the air, the evaporated water cools and turns into liquid. The system then drains that water. Then, the air that returns to your home is drier and cooler than before. So, if 78 degrees isn’t doing it for you, consider adding more dehumidification before messing with the thermostat. Depending on your needs, there’s everything from portable room dehumidifiers to whole-house systems that hook right up to your central air unit. Or, different types of air conditioners that can handle more humidity in general.
How ductless air conditioning saves money and keeps your home cooler
If you’re looking to bring down your energy bills and you’re in the market for a new air conditioning system, consider a ductless system. These setups can cool either your entire home or just one room. And, they use a lot less energy to do so. The cost-savings happen for several reasons. But, when we’re talking specifically about cooling, the key to it is that they’re variable-speed units. Here’s what that means: Your average central air has two modes: On and Off. Sure, you can change the temperature. But, in terms of velocity, it’s all or nothing. That’s, in part, why they turn on and off. When the air handlers cool the area enough for the thermostat to reach its call, the system shuts off. Then, when the temperature rises, it turns back on. With ductless, the system runs almost all the time. But, for the most part, it’s in an energy-saving low-power mode. There are variable speed traditional systems as well, but if you have an older central AC, it's likely only one speed.
Ductless air conditioning and variable speed
Once the ductless system gets the temp where you want it, the air handlers run on low-power to maintain the temperature. Not only does this use less energy. It also helps a lot with dehumidification. Since the system is almost always running, it’s continually removing moisture from the air. So, it’s worth considering if you’re noticing humidity as a sticking (or, perhaps more accurately, “sticky”) point when it comes to cooling your home. Airquip Heating and Air Conditioning has offered dependable and personalized service to customers in the Rochester area since 1995. If you’re looking for ways to make your home more comfortable in the summer without increasing your energy bills, contact us today!