In certain parts of the country running your air conditioning during the summer isn’t an option. Without it, even day to day tasks become impossible. Sleeping? Forget it. Cooking? That’s even worse.
But running an A/C unit all day every day can really drive up your utility bills. In fact, even running your A/C for small portions of the day can increase utility costs substantially (more on that later).
Though that doesn’t mean you’re doomed to high electricity costs forever. Keeping your A/C unit set at the optimal temperature can help keep your costs down and ensure staying cool doesn’t break the bank.
In addition to the optimal temperature for energy savings, we’ll also talk about how to find your own optimal temperature to really reduce your utility bills. Let’s take a look at what temperature should air conditioning be set at.
Average Energy Costs
Before we get started looking at the best air conditioning unit temperature, we need to first talk about how much money it costs, on average, to run your air conditioner.
The average cost of energy in the U.S. gets measured in cents per kilowatthour. Put another way, it’s how many kilowatts you’re using per hour and how much each individual kilowatt costs.
Though kilowatthours vary widely by state, and even by every month of every year. For instance, in South Dakota electricity cost $10.84 per kilowatthour. But in Rhode Island electricity costs $20.22 per kilowatthour.
That variance plus the different average temperatures throughout the year in each region of the country means that it’s hard to nail down the average cost of running your A/C.
If we calculate the average cost of electricity in the U.S. as $12.99 per kilowatthour, you can then use this handy calculator to find out how much you’re paying per hour, per day, per month, and per year to run your A/C.
And while this is actually fairly accurate for people using standalone units that turn on and off without a thermostat, those with a thermostat won’t have exact hours to use in the calculator.
In hotter climates, the air condition kicks on far more than cooler climates. When you’re not home during the workday, you can’t accurately calculate your energy costs.
That’s why we took for alternatives, like an optimal temperature to set your thermostat to save electricity and therefore money. Setting the optimal temperature helps negate the price and climate differences across regions.
What Temperature Should Air Conditioning be set at: The Optimal Temperature
Let’s start simple. EnergyStar says 78? F is the optimal thermostat temperature for cooling and energy efficiency when you’re awake and at home. When you’re at work they recommend 85? F, and 82? F when you’re sleeping.
They also recommend changing the temperature yourself to see what’s optimal for your comfort level. The hotter you can tolerate your home the more money you can save on A/C costs.
Take your starting costs to set a baseline, and then adjust your thermostat as you see fit to find out about how much each degree affects your utility bill.
Digging Deeper into Cooling
Beyond EnergyStar’s recommendations, there are a few more things you can take into account that will seriously help your cooling bills. They take a bit more thinking, some understanding of nature, and a little knowledge of the human body.
The higher the relative humidity the hotter you’ll feel. Even with extremely high temperatures states like Colorado often feel cooler than the thermometer indicates. That’s because the human body’s sweat glands, our natural cooling system, don’t function correctly when humidity rises.
Dry air evaporates your sweat and makes you feel cooler. Wet air, obviously, doesn’t evaporate your sweat and leaves you feeling hotter and producing the “sticky” feeling that people associate with humidity.
This phenomenon is responsible for places like Flordia running up the cooling costs while places like Nevada keep them cheaper. The lower the relative humidity, the cooler you feel and the less you can run your air conditioning. (or the higher you can set the thermostat).
We can take this idea and use it to help increase your thermostat threshold. Dehumidifier and fans can both help decrease your home’s humidity and thus drive down the amount of time you’re running the air conditioning.
Your Comfort Levels
We’ve briefly touched on this, but the hotter you can stand it, the lower your utility bills. Look at finding the optimal temperature setting for your home as a balance. We’ll set 78? F as the baseline.
Start increasing your thermostat threshold from 78? F until it’s too hot to live comfortably. Find your maximum temp and set the thermostat there. Over the next few days see if you’re comfortable. If you are, slowing increase the threshold and repeat the process.
Though know that you might have to find the highest temp you can handle several different times. Different people enjoy different temperatures for the waking and sleeping hours.
Some prefer it hotter when they sleep (you’ll save more money) while others like sleeping in a colder environment (and costs themselves more money).
Maintaining Your HVAC System
The more you’re running your air conditioning, the higher the chances of breaking down and the more normal wear and tear on your system. The more wear and tear on the system, the more you’ll need to maintain and even routine check-ups.
That’s where we come in. We strive to ensure your air conditioning stays working all summer (or year) long. Get in contact with us and we’ll have your system ready to go in no time.
And in addition to keeping you cool, we also like throwing around a little knowledge on our blog. If you enjoyed our insight on what temperature should air conditioning be set at, you’ll love our other articles, so be sure to check them out.