You know the feeling. It’s the “Ahhh” moment when cool dry air greets you upon entering your home. Home is a refuge, especially when escaping hot humid air with temperatures in the 90’s.
We expect two feelings when it comes to air conditioning in our homes: relief and pleasantness.
If you live in Florida air conditioning is an assumed experience in your home. We expect two feelings when it comes to air conditioning in our homes: relief and pleasantness. We actively anticipate one, the other is unconsciously assumed.
We anticipate relief when entering our home, escaping the hot, muggy conditions outside, but we also unconsciously expect a constant pleasant temperature in our living spaces.
Thermostat Down, Costs Up
In the hotter months of summer, you may be inclined to turn the thermostat setting down to a temperature requiring your AC to run almost constantly. You may feel good when it’s running, but you won’t feel good when your power bill arrives.
Managing the cool temperatures you expect and your energy costs involves both objective and subjective factors. We’ll consider both in answering one of the most common questions homeowners ask about cooling their homes.
What IS the Right Temperature for my AC in Summer?
The answer is two-fold (the objective and subjective parts).
- It’s the temperature that feels comfortable to you.
- It’s the temperature that is cost-efficient.
How can you find an A/C temperature which keeps your home comfortably cool without burning up your budget? Here are some things to consider.
A Comforting Fact?
Each degree you raise the thermostat can save 3–5% on air conditioning costs. Wow! Raising your thermostat from 74° F to 78° F can save you up to 20% on your bill in the hottest months! That’s a fairly objective fact – right?
Some people reading those statistics immediately decide to adapt to the increased temperature because saving that much money makes them feel really good. Others are unmoved by such a fact, feeling the discomfort of living in warmer temperatures is not worth the savings. Perhaps you feel a little of both? Therein is the subjective component.
What Is Your Comfort Zone?
Most families have a relative who always carries a sweater. Others have that uncle whom we wish would put on his shirt. The point is people can have different comfort levels in the same environment.
Comfort zone—we want to base it on science, but it is somewhat subjective when you speak about a “comfortable” temperature. Toss in the humidity factor and the term comfort becomes complex. In Arizona, 80 degrees can feel pleasant, but in Florida, it can feel downright sticky.
What Can You Do?
There are several things homeowners can do to keep their cool and preserve their bottom line.
Check your Thermostat Accuracy.
Not all thermostats are calibrated accurately—some may be off by one or two degrees. Use a second thermometer next to your thermostat to confirm accuracy. If your thermostat reads 78°, but it’s actually 80°, you may be trying to tolerate an inaccurate temperature.
Consider the Energy Star Recommendation
Energy Star is the US government energy rating program that helps consumers save money and protect our environment with energy-efficient products and practices. Energy Star recommends running your air conditioner at no lower than 78° Fahrenheit (25.5 C) to maximum your home’s energy efficiency, which of course leads to lower electricity consumption and cost.
Why 78°? It’s very close to the national average high temperature for the month of May. Many people describe that temperature as a pleasant spring day.
A Practical Experiment
You’ve probably heard the story of the frog in the laboratory beaker. As the water in the beaker increases in temperature, the frog didn’t realize what was happening. I’ll pause the story there because it doesn’t end well for the frog. But, there’s a lesson to be learned.
Try adjusting the temperature in your home up 1° and live in it for 3 days. If you feel like it is tolerable, increase the temperature again 1° more and try it for 3 days. You get the idea. Experiment for several days as you and your family go about your regular activities with the goal to get to 78°.
It’s likely the initial 1° change will go unnoticed. The next 1° increase may feel warmer than usual, but you’d be surprised at how quickly your body can adapt to a new constant temperature.
How comfortable are you? Could you live with turning up the AC a few more degrees?
Work With Your AC
If you find it difficult to live comfortably with an indoor temperature of 78° before you lower the thermostat setting there are a few practical things you can do.
- Assess your insulation factor. Proper insulation benefits you in summer and winter alike by limiting the amount of outside air that gets into the house.
- Use shades on windows that get a lot of sun by installing blinds or heavy drapes. Blocking direct sunlight into the interior space significantly reduces interior temperatures.
- Team up with your AC system by using an electric fan or two (preferably ceiling mounted). Fans are low-energy devices which circulate the chilled air and ceiling fans draw hot air upwards, which leaves you feeling cooler.
A note about fans:
- Fans don’t decrease the temperature in your home. Fans help circulate the air (whatever the air temperature) throughout your home.
- Fans do make you feel cooler. The fan moves air across your skin evaporating the moisture on your skin. You feel cooler, but the temperature is the same. That’s why fans are such an energy efficient solution.
Use A Programmable Thermostat
Programmable thermostats come with several settings (usually Wake Up, Leave, Return, and Sleep) which allow you to select different temperatures at various times of the day. The air conditioner will function efficiently and dehumidify effectively when you’re at home and awake. It will conserve energy during your work hours and while sleeping at night (when temperatures drop outside).
So what’s the Best Temperature for My AC?
Simple answer: It’s the comfortable temperature you can comfortably afford.
Take Care of Your Cooling System
Ensure your AC is running optimally, by scheduling regular maintenance. Here are the essentials that need attention so your system is efficient:
- Replace the filter once a month in the spring and summer
- Have the system checked annually to ensure it is using refrigerant fluid at a normal rate
- If your system is more than 10 years old, it may be time to replace it with a more energy-efficient model.
Ace AC of Ocala is ready to help you enjoy cool air in your home in the summer while going easy on your wallet. Call us about our Filter Renew Program or to schedule a refrigerant check at (352) 251-3926.
We’ll never recommend unnecessary work on your AC system. Our business is built on relationships, not repairs.