We know — summers in Texas are h-o-t, hot. That’s why it’s essential to have a good home cooling system in place. The problem, though, is that the lower the temperature you keep your house in the summer, the harder your HVAC system has to work to maintain it. You want to feel a natural comfort level while you’re indoors, but you don’t want to suffer the consequences of a high energy bill. If you want to get the highest amount of savings, set your thermostat to what’s called the magic number.
What’s the Best Summer AC Temperature?
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, you’ll want to keep your thermostat set to 78 degrees. It’s considered the ideal “magic number,” the one that saves you the most money throughout the season. Remember that the closer the thermostat is set to the temperature outside, the less it’s going to cost you in the long run. And since 78 degrees can still be considered comfortable for some people, it’s worth a little bit of extra heat to save money.
Can’t handle 78 degrees? Change your thermostat by one or two degrees, a few hours at a time. As soon as you hit a temperature at which you think you can be comfortable, leave it there. The warmer the better, but you definitely don’t want to be in a sweat lodge!
When you’re away, increase the AC a bit, to about 85 degrees. This can save you up to 10 percent on your bill every year. When you’re sleeping, you should still keep your thermostat set at 78 degrees — just use a light sheet instead of a blanket.
Use a Fan to Your Advantage
When you have a ceiling fan, you can raise the thermostat even higher — by about four degrees. Anything more than that, and you’ll start to feel the heat. But the airflow a fan generates keeps a slightly cool breeze flowing through the house. Just make sure you’re setting it right. You want to set the blades to spin counterclockwise. Look for a little switch on the base of the fan; that’s what you’ll flip to change the rotation. When the fan spins counterclockwise, it pushes cool air down from the ceiling and down onto you, keeping the temperature in the room overall more consistent. And don’t forget to shut the fan off when you leave the room.
Other Options to Keep Your House Naturally Cool
Follow these tips to keep your home naturally cool in the summer when your thermostat is set to a higher number.
- Put weather stripping around windows and doors
- Use black-out curtains to block the sun
- Open the windows at night if it’s cooler outside
- Try not to use appliances that create extra heat, like a stove or a blowdryer
- Get a dehumidifier so the humidity doesn’t make it feel warmer than it is
- Switch to more efficient light bulbs that don’t put out much heat
Why You Need a Programmable or Smart Thermostat
With a programmable or smart thermostat, your HVAC system will learn the proper temperatures at which to set itself at the appropriate times. The thermostat will remember things like what time you get up, when you go to work, when you come home, and when you go to bed — and then adjust accordingly based on your preferred temperature settings. That means you don’t have to worry about remembering to set it yourself — and you don’t have to worry about forgetting and costing yourself the electricity savings you would gain from having the best temperature at the best time. If you do forget, though, or if the settings somehow get mixed up, a smart thermostat usually works in conjunction with an app — so you can lower and raise the temperature in your home as needed, whether you’re there or not.
Be Careful Where You Place Your Thermostat
If you can, make sure your thermostat is located in a spot where it meets the natural airflow in the room. You don’t want it to be in the sun all day, because it will artificially raise the temperature around the thermostat. If it’s near a drafty window, it will have the same effect, raising or lowering the temperature artificially based on the draft. The best place for the thermostat is on an interior wall away from windows, skylights, doorways, and furniture, in a place where it’s easily accessible.
Make Sure Your HVAC System Is as Efficient as Possible
There’s no point in following all these tips and tricks to keep your energy costs low during the summer if your HVAC system can’t handle the heat. A system that needs maintenance is a system that’s going to cost you money. Make sure you get a maintenance check and tune-up before the summer season so it can work at its optimal capacity. And if you can afford it, invest in an energy-efficient air conditioning system. Not only does it keep the temperature more consistent, it also eliminates those money guzzling heavy starts of airflow and nearly twice as much humidity as a regular system.