If you live with another person, there is a good chance that you have had a battle over the thermostat. These disagreements typically arise out of varying comfort preferences as well as concern over saving money, especially during peak cooling months. The following are simple guidelines to help you find the right balance between comfort and economy.
Thermostat Settings for Saving Money
According to Energy Star, a program aimed at promoting energy-efficient appliances and practices, the coolest you should keep your home during the summer months is 78°F. Energy Star only recommends keeping your home this cool when you are at home and awake. You should bump the thermostat up to 82°F at bedtime and 85°F during the workday when you are away.
While these recommendations are on the warm side, using ceiling or box fans can help make the temperature more tolerable by creating more air movement across the skin. Remember to turn fans off when you leave the room since they serve no purpose when the room is unoccupied and will waste electricity. If you are still too warm, adjust the temperature down one degree at a time. Every degree that you adjust your thermostat up or down can affect your utility bill by as much as three percent.
Thermostat Settings for Comfort
Older individuals often prefer warmer temperatures than young adults. Certain health conditions and medications can make a person more sensitive to temperature fluctuations. Of course, the humidity level also has a significant impact on your comfort level since 80°F with 80 percent humidity feels a lot hotter than the same temperature with 20 percent humidity. Ultimately, the right temperature setting is the one that keeps you and your family comfortable without forcing you to take out a second mortgage in order to keep up with your utility bills.
The Beauty of a Programmable Thermostat
While it is certainly possible to adjust a thermostat manually, a programmable model offers the greatest convenience, accuracy, and efficiency since they can be set to remember your temperature preferences based on time of day, the day of the week, and even the season. Energy Star offers the following tips for getting the most out of your programmable thermostat:
• Set the thermostat for its energy-saving set points for at least eight hours at a time.
• Do not use the “hold” or “vacation” feature to manage your daily temperature settings. This feature is intended to keep your home at a consistent temperature when you are away for extended periods.
• Regardless of the type of thermostat that you have, you should never adjust it way down in order to try to cool your house quicker. Your air conditioner cools at a set rate no matter where you set the thermostat. Cranking the thermostat down will not get you cooler any faster and will use more energy.
Ways to Beat the Heat While Saving Money
• Try opening your windows during the cooler part of the morning and at night.
• Keep your curtains closed during the hottest part of the day to block the direct sunlight.
• Avoid using major heat-producing appliances during the middle of the day. This includes your oven, washer, dryer, and dishwasher.
• Plant shade-producing trees on the west and south-facing sides of your home to block the summer sun and to allow more light in during the winter months.
• Add insulation to your attic to keep hot air from seeping into your home.
• Install ceiling fans in each room of your home.
• Have an HVAC professional seal and insulate your ductwork to make sure that all of the cool air reaches your living space.
• Make sure that your air conditioner is the right size for your home. A unit that is too small will not have enough cooling capacity to keep your home at the desired temperature. An AC unit that is too big will cycle too quickly to adequately control the humidity, which will make your home seem warmer than it actually is. If you have changed the footprint of your home, added rooms, or installed new windows or other energy-efficient features, your home’s cooling needs have probably changed and should be evaluated by and HVAC professional.
• Consider adding a dehumidifier to your home so that you can remain comfortable at slightly higher temperatures.
Call SWAN Today
At Swan Plumbing, Heating & Air, our home comfort experts are available to answer all of your air conditioning questions. This is also the perfect time to call us to schedule a pre-season tune-up for your air conditioner so that you will have peace of mind knowing that your AC is ready for the demands of the summer heat.