The central air conditioning system is one of the biggest consumers of electricity in a house. When the AC goes into active cooling mode and powers the compressor, it can use on average 3,500 watts per hour. The only appliance that might use more is an electric water heater.
Because AC’s can take up such a significant chunk of your electrical budget during a hot So. Cal summer, it makes sense to limit how much you have it running. This is why we recommend keeping the thermostat at around 78°F during the day: it’s a comfortable temperature that won’t force the air conditioner to run too long.
What about when you’re away from home? It sounds like it makes sense to just turn the AC off so it won’t use any power. The situation isn’t so simple, however. Unless you plan to be away from home for several weeks, we advise you to keep the air conditioner on—but not necessarily at the same settings.
Raise the Thermostat When You Leave
Whether you’re gone for the day or for a week, set the thermostat so the AC will occasionally run. You aren’t turning it off, only limiting how often it comes on. We’ll talk more about the benefits of this below in a moment. The best setting for when you’re away is to raise the thermostat up 10° from your normal daytime setting when the house is occupied: 86°F to 88°F is a good target. The AC will only switch on when the house becomes extremely hot.
Why Keeping the AC on Is Beneficial
What’s the reason for turning the AC up rather than shutting it off? There are several:
- It ends up saving you money: We know this sounds strange, but keeping the AC at a higher setting when you’re away can cut down on cooling costs compared to simply shutting it down. This is because it takes much more energy for the air conditioner to cool down an overheated house than to maintain a steady warm temperature for several days. If you come home to a house that’s 95°F, getting that temperature down to something reasonable will consume tremendous amounts of power.
- It protects your home: This is especially true if you go on a week-long vacation. Without the AC to keep the temperature down to something in the high 80s, your house can suffer damage from extreme indoor temperatures. It will also have higher humidity, which can lead to mold growth, and those temperatures can damage items in the house.
- You’ll enjoy better comfort: Wouldn’t you prefer to come home to a house that’s already cooling down? This benefit is even better if you have a programmable thermostat or a Wi-Fi thermostat that can start cooling the house down to your regular comfort levels a half hour before you come home.
With these simple steps, you’ll enjoy more affordable cooling, longer service life for your air conditioner, and less need to call us for AC repair in Van Nuys, CA.
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