Should I Turn My A/C Off When I’m Not Home?

With people everywhere emerging from quarantine, summer travel plans are taking shape and one thing that should be included in your summer travel plans is proper preparation for your home while you’re away. For many of us, this is something we haven’t had to think about in a long time, so it’s a good idea to review the best approach to keep your home comfortable, safe, and energy efficient if you plan on being out of town for a week, away for the weekend, or taking the I’m-so-sick-of-seeing-the-inside-of-my-house 6-month road trip.

Best Air Conditioning Settings for Summer

Even if you’re not going on vacation, you may be considering returning to in-person work somewhere that’s not your home, or maybe a summer job is taking you away from home for prolonged periods of time. You might be wondering: should I turn off my a/c when I’m not home?

You’re right to wonder, as choosing the right solution for your air conditioning settings can save you up to 10% or more on your cooling bill. For example, if you remember and set the a/c up 7-10 degrees before you leave the house, and back down again when you return, relieving the unit of that effort during the day significantly reduces your utility bill.

This is especially easy to do if you have a programmable thermostat. Simply plug in the hours you’re away and increase the temperature by up to 10 degrees to have the most efficient outcome for your energy bill. If you swing too far outside the temperature range, you may be cancelling out any good you do, since the a/c will have to work overtime to cool things down once it’s been allowed to get above a certain temperature.

Air Conditioner Settings for Short Vacations

It’s a similar line of thinking that gives us this useful rule of thumb for air conditioning settings when you’re away from home:

  • If you’re away from home less than 3 days, leave the a/c running at 7-10 degrees above the normal setting.

This allows the air conditioner to run most efficiently, both while you’re away and upon your return.

Air Conditioner Settings for Long Vacations

If you plan on being away from home longer than 3 days, say a week or more, it is a good idea to turn the unit off completely. There are a few things to keep in mind here however, as temperature can impact how effective and efficient this cooling strategy will be.

For example, if the weather is forecast to be hotter than normal, or if you’re vacationing during summer when it’s likely to be hot, you may want to keep the air conditioner running above its normal temperature. This can help ensure that things like your refrigerator don’t have to overwork to keep up with the indoor air temperature.

In most cases, however, turning the system off for a prolonged absence is the smart choice to save money, and the environment.

Get the Most out of Your Air Conditioner All Season:

A few additional things to consider:

  • Continuously running systems consume more energy overall
  • A/C working at full capacity is more effective at dehumidifying
  • Setting the thermostat at 78 or higher while away, if you’re not turning it completely off, can save you money and prevent wear on the a/c unit
  • Regular servicing and maintenance — at least once a year — helps ensure you’re a/c will work at peak efficiency, and stand the test of time

If it’s time to schedule your next air conditioner maintenance appointment, or you have any questions about vacation air conditioner settings, visit our resource center, or call our HVAC professionals today (619) 762-3044 to get the answers.

Comments are closed.