You may have wondered as you’re leaving for work in the morning, should I shut off the air conditioner? Sure, it’s nice to come home to a cool house. But keeping the house like a refrigerator all day while it’s standing empty may not be the best thing for the long-term health of the AC system – or the short-term health of your wallet.
On or Off?
As with most questions, the answer is, it depends. Now we know this isn’t the answer you wanted to here, but bare with us.
Ask yourself these questions:
- Do you live in a single-family home, or condo?
- How long will you be away – for a few hours while you’re shopping, or for two weeks’ vacation?
- What temperature do you leave your house at?
The EPA says its better to shut off the air conditioner if you will be away for than a few hours. If you’re just popping out to walk the dog, leave it running. But if you’re at work for eight hours or more each day shut it down. Following this line of reasoning, vacationers should be coming home to a toasty house.
If you live in a condo, your hot ceiling becomes someone’s hot floor. So you might want to keep the AC set at some minimum temperature – at least when your neighbors are home.
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Regulating the Temperature
The issue of temperature settings is crucial. You can buy a programmable thermostat for somewhere around $30 and save hundreds on your AC bill each summer.
Just set the thermostat to turn off the system before you leave for work, and set it to turn back on a half-hour before you’re due to come back home.
Some experts say it’s better to keep the AC running- even if your thermostat is set as high as 85 degrees while you’re on vacation, to keep the air circulating and protect furnishings.
Lessen the strain if you leave it running
Now matter what you decide – off or on, there are things you can do to lessen the burden on your AC system.
- Make sure the windows and doors are closed.
- Draw the blinds or drapes during the heat of the day.
- Have your system serviced annually, before the cooling season.
- Make sure your filters are changed regularly. Check out this great read on The Importance of Air Filters!
These simple steps will make sure your system is running efficiently. Then relax in your nice cool home all summer long, well at least while your home that is.