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What is the Best Air Conditioning Setting When Leaving Home?

Posted on December 6, 2013
by Appleby Systems

Are you looking to make more environmentally friendly changes around the house? One option is to find an ideal air conditioning setting for when you aren't home. This can also extend to your furnace, but your AC has more leeway than when you're faced with potential frozen pipes! In this blog, we discuss how to optimize your home's cooling during the summer so you don't waste any energy when you're not around.

Is there a perfect air conditioning setting?

Indoor comfort is largely a matter of individual preference, so there is no specific thermostat setting that can be considered the “best.” The cost associated with lowering or raising the indoor temperature is dependent on a number of factors, including local weather conditions, the SEER rating of the unit, and the quality of the building’s construction.

Lady turning up the temperature in home

Indoor Temperature Guidelines

As a general rule, raising the thermostat one degree will save up to five percent on monthly air conditioning costs. While Natural Resources Canada recommends that the indoor temperature in the summer should be set as high as possible while still maintaining indoor comfort, homeowners are encouraged to raise the thermostat at least five degrees when leaving their home for over four hours.

The following chart can serve as a guideline for energy saving thermostat settings throughout the day:

Temperature Setting
Morning: 78 degrees Fahrenheit
Leave Home: 85 degrees Fahrenheit
Return Home: 78 degrees Fahrenheit
Before Sleeping: 82 degrees Fahrenheit

Understanding How Temperature Affects Efficiency

The Best Air Conditioning Setting When Leaving Home

Many people believe the common misconception that less energy is consumed when a building is kept at a constant temperature. In fact, the rate of energy consumption is substantially lower when the indoor temperature is kept closer to the outdoor ambient temperature. Numerous studies have verified that the cost of climatizing the building upon reentry is far less than the total cost of maintaining a lower temperature when your home is unoccupied.


Thermostat Choices

There are two primary choices in thermostat operation, including manual and programmable varieties. Homeowners interested in simplicity and a low purchase price usually choose a manual thermostat. A programmable thermostat offers a variety of features that are designed to reduce air conditioning utility costs and enhance overall comfort.

  • Manual Thermostats: Manual thermostats are easy to operate and relatively inexpensive. Basic models have settings for raising or lowering the temperature, and they have a switch to change the mode. Energy savings can only be achieved by manually raising the thermostat setting before leaving the building.
  • Programmable Thermostats: Programmable thermostats use a microprocessor to automatically adjust the temperature for maximum power savings. Depending on the setting for the setback, a programmable thermostat can save up to 30 percent on air conditioning costs when used properly. Most programmable thermostats offer separate weekday and weekend programming capabilities. Some models include an auto-changeover feature to instantly adjust the thermostat mode as the season transitions from heating to cooling.
Setting Smart thermostat

Other Considerations

In areas with high humidity, it is important to verify that the capacity of your air conditioning system is accurately matched to the total load. Unfortunately, equipment that is oversized will short cycle, which can degrade humidity control, especially when the temperature setting is raised.

Inexpensive improvements to the building itself can also help improve comfort and lower utility bills. Specifically, raising insulation levels, sealing the perimeter envelope and sealing the interior ductwork will all help create a more efficient indoor environment.

If you’re interested in upgrading your air conditioner to a more modern and efficient unit, contact us today for a consulation.

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