What temperature should I set my air conditioner in summer?

Tips to Achieve the Perfect Balance Between Energy Savings and Summer AC Temperature

Who enjoys sweltering in the summer heat? You want to be comfortable this summer without spending a lot of money on air conditioning, right? While you ultimately must decide what temperature you feel comfortable at, the US Department of Energy and Energy Star suggest that the best AC temperature is 78°F for summer days. If 78°F seems too high for your comfort level, read our tips on how else you can cool your home to a comfortable temperature during the day and the best temperature for sleeping in summer.

What Temperature Should I Set My Air Conditioner in Summer to Save Money?

When you're gone during the day, you have the potential to save even more if you set the temperature 7° to 10° higher. The DOE estimates that keeping your home at 85°F for eight hours a day during peak cooling times can save you 5% to 15% on your cooling bills.

Obviously, you won't want to sit at home for long periods of time in 85°F temperatures, which is why a programmable thermostat is ideal so you can set your home to cool to 78°F right before you return from work. At this temperature, you can feel completely comfortable if you dress for the season and run the ceiling fan to create a wind chill effect. When air moves quickly over your skin, it makes you feel up to 4° cooler, meaning a 78°F room with a fan running feels as comfortable as a 74°F room with no airflow.

Another tip to maintain your ideal summer AC temperature indoors is to look into shades, curtains, and blinds for windows. By utilizing blackout blinds and keeping the sunshine from warming up rooms in your home, you’ll be able to turn the temperature up on your AC and save money. You can also weatherstrip doors and windows to keep the cool air in and the hot air out for additional savings.

Comfort levels for summer AC temperature differ between night and day. Deciding on the best temperature to set thermostat in summer can depend on whether you’re working from home, have infants or small children, and how cool your environment can get at night without additional help from an AC. While it might save money and energy to keep the AC at 85°F during the day when you are not home, such a warm environment might not be ideal for sleeping or if you’re working from home. Since your brain ceases body temperature regulation during REM sleep, you want your room temperature to be comfortable.

Best AC Temperature for Sleeping

Setting your thermostat at night during the summer is a bit trickier. If you can sleep soundly in a warm room, Energy Star recommends setting the temperature 4° higher than your daytime setting. However, many people prefer sleeping in a cool room, which may result in turning the thermostat down rather than up at night. The best temperature for sleeping in summer is said to be between 60° and 67°F.

Opening the windows while you sleep is a good solution if you live in an area that cools down overnight. Then, closing the windows in the morning before it gets hot traps cool air inside and gives your air conditioner a head start. You can also run fans in bedrooms which can help circulate air in the room you sleep in while keeping the rest of the house at a consistent temperature.

Average Air Conditioning Temperature

The average air conditioning temperature depends on a variety of factors, including geographic location, comfort levels, season, and cost of energy. Anywhere between 72° to 78°F is typically standard. A study in Texas revealed that the model temperature during summer months was between 70° and 75°F. The same was true for the winter months. However, this could differ based on energy costs in the region.

Setting your AC with a Programmable Thermostat and Zoning

Setting your AC with a Programmable Thermostat and Zoning To maintain the best temperature for AC in the summer and prevent arriving at a hot house when you get off work, install a programmable thermostat and set it correctly. An automatic setback when you leave each morning prevents you from forgetting to turn the temperature up, and automatic recovery 30 minutes before you arrive home allows you to enjoy energy savings without sacrificing comfort. Some thermostats even have apps that you can access from your phone in case you need to change temperatures while you’re away. Zoning is also useful for keeping the bedrooms in your home cool at night without cooling the entire house.

With zoning, you control the temperature in individual areas of your home with multiple thermostats. When you zone the bedrooms separately from the living area, you ensure you stay cool and comfortable while keeping your energy bills low. Thermostat settings aren't the only things that need attention when preparing your air conditioner for summer, now is also the time to replace the AC filter for more efficient air conditioning.

Thermostat Not Reaching Set Temperature

If you’ve started noticing that your home feels too warm or too cold when you think you’ve set it to the ideal temperature, it might be time for some troubleshooting. Your AC not reaching a set temperature in summer can end up resulting in uncomfortably high temperatures if your unit gives out because it had an unattended to issue. Turning your thermostat lower isn’t a fix, it causes your AC to run longer, putting more strain on components that might actually need maintenance. Here is a quick checklist to go over before calling the professionals.

Troubleshooting steps for when your AC is not reaching a set temperature:

  • Check your thermostat – is it sitting flush on the wall or is it at an angle? Is your thermostat near a window, in a particularly warm or cold room in your house, or near a heating source such as a fireplace or kitchen? All of these factors can exaggerate or skew the thermostat temperature, meaning that your system won’t be able to react appropriately. Dust and lint can also collect inside the thermostat and wires can come loose over time. After lightly dusting using a cotton swab or gentle brush, make sure all wires are securely plugged in and screwed tight. Make sure to also check batteries.
  • Check your filters - have your air filters recently been replaced? Running your AC unit consistently means you need to be more attentive to how often your air filters need to be replaced since they can clog up and cause even more problems. Check the filter on your HVAC system to see if it has any built up dust or lint.
  • Check your outdoor unit- the condenser of an AC needs to be clear on all sides so it can exhaust heat so if you’ve let your landscaping take over or covered your outdoor unit because it was unsightly, this may be the cause of your AC not reaching set temperature.
  • AC age - some units can last longer than others, but if your air conditioner is older than 15 years it might be time to have the professionals come in to check your unit for any age related issues and general wear and tear.

While maintenance tasks such as changing the air conditioner filter and hiring a professional to tune up the AC unit make a difference, something as simple as the temperature setting plays a huge part in how much you pay to air condition your home. Looking for additional ways to save money during the summer? Our summer saving tips will get you through the sweltering heat comfortably and affordably!

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