When the heat starts rising outside and you’re inside your living space, what do you do? Well if you have central air conditioning, you turn it on! We may not live in as hot of a place as other parts of the country, but relatively speaking, our summers are pretty warm! Having an effective and efficient air conditioner in place is vital.
But, we have to ask… how low do you set your thermostat when you turn on your air conditioner? If your response is “As low as possible!” then you might actually be pushing your air conditioner beyond its limits.
“Wait,” you might be wondering, “If my thermostat goes that low, why can’t I set it that low?”
It’s not that you can’t, it’s that you might prefer not to, after reading this blog post. Read on!
The Hotter It Gets, the Higher You Should Set Your Thermostat
We get it, this is confusing advice. It’s warm outside, you want your air conditioner to cool you off and you want it to do so now.
Here’s a secret for you, though…setting your thermostat as low as it goes doesn’t help your home cool off any faster, it just forces the compressor to run longer, which is inefficient and exacerbates wear and tear on your air conditioner.
The truth is, your air conditioner can really only achieve temperatures in the home that are no more than 20°F than the temperatures outside. In the Portland area, this isn’t typically a problem. If last summer was any indication though, we can and do have intense heat waves.
If we’re faced with another 95°F day this year, you won’t want to set your thermostat down to 65°F. The system will never be able to reach that desired temperature setting, and therefore you’ll be using the system inefficiently as we described above.
Can I Ever Set My Thermostat That Low?
Again, yes, you can. This doesn’t mean you should though. The average temperature setting that most people are comfortable with is 78°F. Having a higher temperature setting and keeping your air conditioner on 24/7 is actually more efficient than running it at 68°F for half a day.
Let’s Talk About Heat Gain
Let’s talk a bit more about why raising the temperature on your thermostat can help with cooling your home, and ultimately saves energy and money. The bigger the difference between indoor and outdoor temperatures, the faster heat from outside will enter your home–this is known as heat gain.
When you raise the thermostat setting as high as you can while still remaining comfortable, you slow down this heat gain, and you help keep your living space cooler for a longer period of time. So, if it’s 95°F+ outside, put your thermostat up to 78°F and you’ll slow down heat gain, giving your cooling system a critical break.
If you have any questions or think that your air conditioner is struggling to cool you down as it should, please don’t hesitate to give our team a call!