Saving more money by turning off your a/c when gone

It’s starting to get warm out there again, which means one thing…

Time to tune up and turn on those air conditioners while trying to save money on your cooling bills. Tough job!

If you’re anything like me, then you know how uncomfortable it can be when you’re hot in your own home. I hate being hot, so I love air conditioning. I consider it one of the greatest inventions around, just due to how much I hate being hot. Living in the south doesn’t help me much either. It’s hot for several months out of the year. I just love Spring and Fall the most.

As someone who is also relatively frugal, I’m always torn between blasting the AC on high and enjoying those frosty temperatures or saving money. Typically, I push toward saving money. The good thing is you can save money and use your AC if you just plan a little and use some technology. Now a days, you can easily use technology to help you.

Check out the latest programmable thermostats to keep you cool and save you money! There are some awesome new ones out that can be programmed using your phone.

The majority of homeowners likely wonder whether it is better to turn off the AC while away or keeping it on all day. We certainly want to stretch every dollar, and we want the most efficient way of running things. But you also probably don’t want to die during the blistering heat of summer − which begs the question if turning the system off is worth the agony. But some people believe that leaving an air conditioner at all times − even while away − is the better path towards smaller energy bills. So…

Should I Turn Off My A/C to Save Money on My Cooling Bill?

I was lucky enough to have a HVAC technician help answer this question for me. Jason is a long-time HVAC tech who understands how air conditioners work and knows the answer to this constant question.

Jason is going to take it from here!

Being an HVAC technician for about 23 years, I’ve learned a good deal of how air conditioners work and how to maximize your indoor climate control efficiency. So, what about the belief that you shouldn’t turn off your air conditioner while away?

The myth: Leaving your air conditioner on all day will help save money in the long run by not having to kick start it each and every time you turn it back on.

The truth: Absolutely false.

How Air Conditioners Really Work

By keeping your air conditioner on at all times during the day, you’re not using an air conditioner efficiently, because leaving the air on all day (even when you’re not home) results in a higher use of energy. It would seem to be common sense that something that works harder is spending more energy, but this assumption is not an accurate reflection of how air conditioners work.  Fluctuating to accommodate for a constant temperature is far more taxing on an air conditioner than when it’s working at full capacity. Air conditioners work best when they are operating in full gear.

Leaving the air conditioner on throughout the day is also more damaging to your system. You’ll see several years added to the life of your system if you use it only when necessary instead of relying on the superstition that constantly running a system is somehow beneficial. Cut this habit now, and you’ll also notice a difference in your utility bills in no time. Most people don’t realize that by altering the temperature on the thermostat by one degree, your air conditioner is working at a difference of 5% — resulting in you saving or wasting your money in the long run. Pick the temperature that is right for you and your family.

The best way to maximize your savings and your comfort level is to purchase a programmable thermostat. It’s one of the first things I purchase when I buy a home (if there isn’t one already present). They pay for themselves quickly and you can enjoy a comfortable house, a well-functioning air conditioner, and a happy family. There are some great ones out there to purchase, but here are a few of the most popular.

That being said, it’s also not wise to leave your system running hard constantly. While running full blast is efficient on start-up, inching the thermostat to leave it constantly on full blast will leave your home freezing cold in July and can increase your energy bill.

Related Read: 43 Ways to Save More Money Today

The cost of running an air conditioner can go well over two dollars per hour. By switching off your air conditioner while away, you’ll immediately see the change in your future bills. Knowing that you’re saving money while using your air conditioner in an efficient manner will keep you and your family happier in the long run.

So, the answer to the question is: Don’t leave your A/C running when you’re gone!

The best option for you and most people is to create a schedule with your programmable thermostat to increase the temperature when you are not around. This will allow the system to be off more often. Please note, if you have pets, please know what you need to do for them to make them comfortable during the day. Don’t turn your temperature up to 90 to save money. That could harm your animals.

Related Tips to Reduce Your Cooling Bills

We won’t leave you hanging with just answering this question. You should know a few more ways to save money with your air conditioner.

First and foremost, make sure you get it serviced regularly. Most experts suggest twice a year (once in the Spring and once in the Fall). This is especially important when you have one system that does both heating and cooling. Always ask around for deals to see which company can provide you the service for the best price. You can’t get a discount unless you ask!

Second, if you have ceiling fans, use them! They are a great way to keep cooler and to push warm air out of your house. It also will help you circulate the cold air from the A/C around the house. Ceiling fans are excellent distributors of air and a great way to save more money on your utility bills.

Third, play with your thermostat settings to see what comfort level you can get away with. For every degree you raise or lower your thermostat, the more money or less money you save (depending on the season). Remember, for every degree, your A/C can be 5% more or less efficient. Those savings can add up over time.

What other great tips do you have to save money on your cooling bills?

Author Bio: Jason Wall is an HVAC technician who writes tips on air conditioning and heating for Griffith Energy Services. When he isn’t working or writing, he can be found enjoying a good baseball game or spending time with his family.

 

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100 Comments

    1. @ DC: You bring up a great point. But consider that the air conditioning needs of pets can vary hugely on the breed. Huskies can comfortably sleep in the snow, but leaving a pug in an unheated house can turn them into a pugsicle. I’m completely for keeping a safe and comfortable environment for pets, but they don’t always need the temperature that we need to be safe and happy.

      1. So if my ac unit is on 78 auto and I have timed it because I’m trying to see what is best, it comes on every 10 minutes and stays on 10 minutes. Is this helping or hurting my energy bill. Kids out for summer so someone is always home and off is not a option, what do you suggest

        1. It shouldn’t be coming on every 10 minutes to keep it at 78 unless the unit is underpowered or you have massive air loss in your home.

    2. I have two dogs and don’t leave my A/C unit on during the day when I am not home. I have curtains and blinds and that keeps the house at around 80. My A/C is set up high in the summer and they don’t have any issue. It is colder in the house than outside, so that is all good.

      1. That is just cruel if not going to treat your dogs any better than that you shouldn’t have them how would you like to be in a hot house with a fur coat on it’s not that they don’t have issues is that they have no choice there given none you shouldn’t treat your animals any differently than you would treat your children or yourself what kind of person does this do those dogs have Bayer find them a home with somebody with a heart before they died of heatstroke and you’re arrested for animal cruelty it’s a felony I’m told and it should be

        1. Ummm…My dogs have been with us for 13 years, so they are treated pretty well. And a dog can easily survive in 80 degree weather. That is nothing for a dog. That’s not hot by any standard for a dog. Don’t judge someone if you can’t read.

    3. He mentioned pets.. Please note, if you have pets, please know what you need to do for them to make them comfortable during the day. Don’t turn your temperature up to 90 to save money. That could harm your animals.

  1. We don’t have central air, but we have a window unit in our bedroom and only turn it on just before we go to bed. If we had central air we would definitely get a programmable thermostat. But DC’s point about pets is a good one. We definitely leave fans on in one room so that our pets have somewhere to stay cool. It would be nice to be able to do something similar with the AC so you don’t have to keep the whole house on full blast.

    1. That is a pretty important caveat about central air conditioning. A lot of clients I’ve had ask if closing the vents in certain rooms is a viable option on controlling the temperature of each room individually, and the answer is a resounding no. This only causes your system to work harder to reach that room to cool it off. I’d always consider keeping a few indoor fans for this reason.

    2. We have central and a window a/c unit because our central is too small for our house size. It saves us a lot of money to use the window unit in our room when we go to bed. We like it cold at night.

  2. Thanks for dispelling this myth. This is one pf the biggest concerns I have to deal with when helping people become more energy efficient. This and running the AC when you could just open the windows.

    1. Thanks for reading! Opening windows and adjusting blinds to shield sunlight can make a big impact on an indoor climate. Opening windows parallel across a room is especially useful when possible, since it creates a draft that more efficiently removes warm air.

  3. We keep the windows open as much as possible, but days where the A/C is needed, it has to be on full-time. Our house has 4 adults who work different schedules plus my mother-in-law “works from home”at our place. Plus a dog and three cats. The house is never empty.

    1. There are definitely some homes where the AC has to run overtime. Keep in mind that every degree you notch up on a thermostat equals roughly 5% of an energy difference; adjusting your system throughout the day can make a big difference, too.

    2. When we have a lot of people here, our a/c is on full blast because it takes too much to keep the temperature manageable.

  4. If you have pets, then you probably don’t want to turn the air off. I live in St. Louis and this week is has been pretty cold (70s and 80s), but the norm is 100 degree heat every single day. My pets would not do well in that, and I would never make them suffer like that!

    1. How warm does it get in your house when the outside temp is 100? My house will still be around 85 and that is more than comfortable for a dog.

  5. What about leaving the A/C on, but turning the temperature setting up to 80/85? I heard it was better to turn up the temperature versus turning it off completely if you lived in a hot area and you were only gone for a few hours each day.

    1. When I lived in Texas, I kept mine at 95 while I was away at work, but this was more so that my apartment would get cool again in a reasonable amount of time after I got home and lowered it to room temp, than to save money.

      I don’t know that this would save money though…but it’s not really a fair comparison since leaving it off entirely would have meant I’d spend an extra hour at home uncomfortable

    2. I turn mine up to something that I know it probably won’t reach, but if it does, then the A/C will kick on. Turning it up high and turning if off will still give you the same result.

  6. I agree with you. I’ve tried both methods and turning the temperature up high enough so the AC doesn’t kick in, has definitely saved us a lot more than keeping it consistent and on all the time. Unfortunately, our AC unit died a couple years ago and we had to replace it. it was a 13-year old unit, so it was time to go. But I sometimes wonder if having the AC go on and off all the time is more taxing on the unit?

    1. Sorry to hear that your A/C unit died. I was surprised that so many people think it is a good idea to keep their unit on the whole time at a constant temperature. That just doesn’t make sense.

      1. I agree with you. We use ours the way you suggest and the unit is 35 years old and still operating fine.

  7. I’m with you Grayson and use a digital thermostat to better regulate my system. It’s programmed for when I leave, return, go to bed and wake up and has settings for individual days so the weekends are set differently than weekdays (in case I actually sleep in). It just makes life much more manageable, especially in the sweltering summers so the house is cool by the time I get home, rather than first having to lower the temp then wait for it to start kicking in. And when I’m there, I would gladly spend the money to be absolutely comfortable in my own home as opposed to people who do everything possible to not spend a single penny when it can be avoided.

  8. As an extension of the myth you disproved, what do you think of leaving the air conditioner’s fan on while away? Without the compressor running, you’d probably be using 1/10th the power.

    1. Fans don’t actually cool the air, they just keep it moving. When air moves about you, it helps dissipate body heat faster, making you feel cooler. If nobody is in the flow of air, then all the fan is doing is wasting electricity.

    2. Edward makes a good point. The fan will just move air around the house, but you probably won’t feel it. Use a ceiling fan and that will be a better move.

  9. We were just away fro the weekend and shut off the A/C. We closed up the house and turned it on when we returned. The temperature in the house was within range as if the A/C was on despite the high temperatures in southern California. In other parts of the country, you may need the A/C for humidity control.

    1. I do the same thing Krant. The humidity is bad here in the south, but when I turn of my unit when I am gone, it is not too bad in the house.

  10. My wife stays at home with our little boy, so our air conditioning gets a fair amount of use. We do use a programmable thermostat and usually have it set pretty high to help keep the cost in check.

    1. We have to keep the house cool longer due to our son sleeping so early and that has increased our costs for sure, but we are working it out.

  11. We practice opening up the house early in the morning and then shutting all the windows my mid-morning. The house then stays pretty cool until evening, then we open up again. This doesn’t work of course when it’s really hot or when it doesn’t cool off much even overnight, but in our area it works most of the time.

  12. Thanks, Jason, for clarifying on the power usage. We’ve always believed in turning ours off while away and then kicking it up when we got home, but weren’t entirely sure that this was the right way to go. We also turn it a few degrees higher than we’re comfy with, just to maximize cost savings.

  13. This is a great reminder. Our energy bills have decreased quite a bit since getting a programmable thermostat. We’re able to program it to be warmer during the day when we’re not home and then cooler at night when we are there. It’s pretty crazy how much more it costs to keep the house a few degrees cooler.

  14. I don’t leave the A/C on all day even if we are home. It’s very expensive with the time of use so I run it at night time and it shuts off early in the morning. It keeps the house cool all day long until and if we need to turn it back on again after 7pm.

  15. I try to pre-program a schedule that keeps the house cool enough for my cat while also keeping it more comfortable for us when we’re home.

    1. How cool does your cat need it? I know many people that have outdoor cats that live outside and won’t come inside. They are fine when it is 100 degrees. I just don’t know why your cat would need it cooler than 85 degrees. 85 with little to no humidity is a nice temperature.

  16. My boyfriend had a family house in Miami and they occupied it only for holidays, but left the AC on all the time! They said it was too humid and otherwise the house would be moldy and have structural damages much more expensive than the electric bill.

    1. Couldn’t they just get a dehumidifier and run that instead of the A/C? I am sure it would be much cheaper than running the A/C constantly.

  17. Avatar Derek | MoneyAhoy.com - Money Saving, Making Money, and Investment Ideas says:

    If it’s below 76 F at night, I’ll open the windows and use a box fan to pull out air and draw in fresh air. This can really lower the temperature of the house in the morning and probably saves $5 – $10 a day due to lower AC usage for the first several hours during the day.

  18. I turn off my A/C when I go to work. I usually keep my house at 78 degrees in the summer. The most I’ve had my temperature go up was from 78 to around 83-84 while I was at work for 10 hours. That was on the one of the days where it was in the mid 90s. Usually its around 80 when I come back so it doesn’t take too long to run the A/C before its back at 78. I keep my blinds closed during the day, and will also use fans, so often times I don’t even run the A/C. My house is all electric, so the electricity bill is the bulk of my utilities, so minimizing A/C usage is a must.

  19. Where are you located though? I live in a desert where it frequently reaches 116+ (F) outside and we are frequently told that you raise the thermostat while away, but never turn it off completely because the energy required to bring the house back down would damage the A/C faster….do you think turning it off applies to all climates?

    1. That’s the point of a programmable thermostat. If you raise it high enough, then it does shut off the system until that temperature is reached. Every climate is different, but your until is still active, but not pumping. I live in the south where we have constant 100 degree days. That being said, my house doesn’t get over 83 inside with the A/C off. I put my programmable thermostat to that point and save money!

      1. I live in Central California and this summer heat in the hundreds has been driving my family up the wall. Last month our bill doubled, which left me in awe. I only irregularly used the A/C during the billing period, at 82 and would only let it run for 3 hours max each mid afternoon. We contacted PG&E and tried to see if the bill was real (ha!) and I guess we have to check our unit and see if it needs any maintenance done, or if the SMART meter is faulty we would have to have a pro look at it. My question is: where do I find one? They said if we can prove that the meter is faulty then we can go from there. I sure as heck am not asking PG&E. So we decided to buy a couple more fans and open windows, but the majority of the day the fans would just blow really hot suffocating air. Then I was advised by a friend to stop shutting off the A/C, as it sucks up more power during start up is what he said. He told me to keep it at 82 and not turn it off (it will be in auto mode, he added). So now I am at a stall, because it has been 2 days since I took his advice. We have 2 dogs and 2 humans (AND a half) living in this house, and I am a full-time housewife. What would you suggest I do? Thanks in advance!

  20. what if your roommate’s a fu***** selfish moron and cranks the AC down to 60 all night because he feels hot because he’s a fat retarded fu***** selfish prick. F*** YOU SEAN!

    1. I would sign up for the program through your utility company where the heat/AC temp is automatically decreased/increased and can’t be changed.

  21. What is the A/C you speak of? But seriously, I only have a window unit in the summer for my bedroom and I only use it when it gets above 90 degrees. It barely impacts my electricity bill which is nice. I can’t imagine leaving it running all day! Living in the North East allows me to get away with this 🙂

    1. Haha, down here in the south, AC is a necessity. You can leave your windows open, but you just let in hot/humid air that makes things worse.

  22. That’s why I love the new wireless AC tech out there now. With things like NEST you can auto adjust temperature and even control the dial from your phone away from home.

  23. I work from home and need it to be as quiet in my room as possible, which is why having the window open wouldn’t be an option for me (far too many pets in my neighborhood hahaha). Recently I’ve tried turning off the A/C when its nice & cold, leaving it off for about 2 hours and then back on when it starts getting too hot for my taste. My mom has been fussing about it, saying it’s best to simply lower the thermostat instead of turning it on and off throughout the day.

    My question is my mother correct? I am wrong in simply having it rest every 2 hours?

    1. No, you are correct. As stated in the article, air conditioners work best when running at full capacity. You’re effectively doing that when you shut it off for two hours. It’s not running at all during that time and then cranking at full capacity when you turn it back on. That being said, you could use a programmable thermostat (if you don’t already have one) and tweak the settings for the time of day. I work from home and that’s what I’ve done. I have it set to the hottest I can stand without being uncomfortable during the day. My unit rarely turns on most days until I set it to a better temp when my wife and son get home.

  24. Any advice for homes that cool unevenly? My roommate’s bedroom is over the garage and it’s easily 10 degrees warmer in there than the master bedroom. If we turn the AC down any more, my room is like a refrigerator and his is still a sauna even with the doors open. He has 2 east facing windows with blackout curtains and we have 3 south facing Windows with regular curtains so I don’t understand why the vast difference in temps between the 2 rooms. I would add more insulation but the garage has been finished so that would mean tearing out the drywall.

    1. We had that problem in our old house. Our master bedroom was the hottest of all the rooms. If we blasted the A/C, it would be cold everywhere else. The easiest and most cost-effective solution is get a window a/c unit. Seriously, they work awesome and we saved a ton of money by just cooling our room down while keeping the other rooms comfortable. You can get some good ones on Amazon or from a local home improvement store. You can take it out after the summer too. Simple and easy.

  25. We have an extra ac unit for a spare room off the garage. I am wondering if the general rule you have articulated applies to turning it completely off overnight vs setting the thermostat at about 82. As it is exposed to the always hot garage in-between and gets all kinds of sun thru the windows from when morning breaks until we get out there around 9 or 10. We do whichever each night for weeks?

    1. You don’t have to turn it off, but if you have it set to a temp where it won’t be running all of the time, then that is OK. It’s the same principle of a programmable thermostat, but you have to do it manually.

  26. We turn off the AC for the majority of the year since we live in a shaded area (which really helps in Texas weather!). That’s something we thought about before we moved to our current apartment – we wanted somewhere that would keep somewhat cold during the year.

  27. Thanks for all the AC help! I definitely did not know this before, so it is really great to know I can save some extra money!

  28. We actually don’t own an AC, and don’t plan on investing in one anytime soon.
    We’re lucky to have thick walls, so we save a lot of money on heat during winter, and during the warm &hot months, we have plenty of shade.
    The money saving aspect of not owning an AC is indeed a big plus. But the real reason is we prefer to avoid any health problems that might be associated with using one. I’m pretty sure we’d “abuse” the AC if we had one. We’re better off without it 😀

    1. Well, it gets hot here in North Carolina during the summer, so A/C is needed in my opinion. Not sure of the health problems associated with using one unless you have dirty ducts moving air around your house, but as long as your comfortable.

  29. A programmable thermostat is a must-have in my book. I have mine set to kick the AC on about 30 minutes before I get home so it’s nice and comfy when I arrive without having to use more power than needed.

      1. Great goodness! 74? I start feeling nauseated at 74. The highest I can tolerate is 72, but I prefer 70 or even 68. My first full-month electric bill in Texas in a 1-bedroom apartment was $106 for March and it wasn’t even hot outside. Come August, I can easily see $200 when you can dry-cook eggs by juggling them outside. So I’ll definitely be turning the thermostat up before going to work.

  30. I always wondered what you should do in order to save money with A/C, but never truly found a good answer. This will do the trick! I use to have my temperature set at 72, but I will shoot for 75 from now on.

  31. Does anyone here live in the desert? I live in Palm sprongs, California and if I left my AC off while away, especially during the day, it would take several hours to get it down to a comfortable temperature. Not to mention the unit would be working very hard to do so. How is that energy efficient? When my AC has been off in the summer, decorative candles have melted. Im no HVAC tech, but this article is very generalized and not necessarily the best advice for all areas. I need to know how to stay comfortable and not go broke when it’s 118 outside for two months straight.

    1. I have a few friends who live in Phoenix and what they do is use a programmable thermostat to keep the home at about 85 when they are away. This allows for their system to not run all the time and it can get the temperature down quicker. If it’s getting hot enough in your house to melt candles, you might want to check how efficient your home is.

  32. The resounding problem with this theory is the assumption that A/C only exists in 2 conditions – on all day long or off all day long. The fact is that central AC controlled by a thermostat does not work that way. Central air will only turn on the compressor when it needs to turn on because the temperature is high. Short cycling can occur, but the typical compressor and condenser run at full power and then shut off. They to not vary power. And trying to quickly cool a very hot house is when AC is least efficient. If you let your house heat up to 85 degrees during the day and then crank the AC to 74, it could take hours running nonstop during the hottest part of the day to cool the space back down. This is not efficient for central AC systems. It is very hard on them. They are actually designed to run cyclically. If you live somewhere moderate where the AC load is not high, this might work. If you live somewhere where the average daytime temp – at least during cooling season – is above 90 degrees and you have high sun exposure, turning your AC off all day and then asking it to cool you home down when you come back is asking it do work in a manner it was not designed for. That will kill your system far faster than letting the system maintain a decent temperature. Raising your thermostat a few degrees during the day might work. But shutting the system off is ill-advised.

    1. Raising it a few degrees would do very little for saving money. I’ve talked to a number of HVAC contractors and when I show them the schedule on my programmable thermostat, they have no issues with it. I don’t turn it off, but I effectively do by raising the thermostat up to a temp that the house shouldn’t get to, but also one that isn’t so hot that it would break something.

      I left for Europe for a month and turned my A/C off. It hit mid 90s and 100 when we were gone and when we got back it was hot (still only 82 in the house), but the house cooled down to 76 in about an hour from a turned off state.

      If your house is getting so hot when the thermostat is in an upper temp, then you need to think about doing some other measures to keep the heat from penetrating the home.

      I’ve done the increase in temps (not a few degrees either) for years and have a low energy bill in the summer and a well working unit. No complaints here.

  33. You can leave off your a/c all you want so long as you don’t have roomers in your home. That is people who are paying you RENT. A ‘healthy’ rent (probably half the mortgage on your home). Don’t be so stingy to accept their rent and have them sweating until they decide to up and move just because you’re trying to save money. I am in this situation now. I rent from a man and his wife. They also live in the home. They occupy the downstairs area. I am upstairs. We live in Dallas, TX. It’s gets so hot in the summer in Dallas. They try to catch any little hot breeze that blows through the open door (and it’s rarely ‘breezy’ in Dallas) and they forget that upstairs it’s sweltering. I’m constantly having to ask him will he turn on the a/c when it gets unbearable upstairs. I pay close to $600 to rent a room from him. I take it his mortgage is only around $900 if that.

    I’ve always paid on time. i work everyday and when I get home I want to be comfortable. I am currently looking for another place.

    1. I’d agree there. If I had someone paying rent in my house in a different area, I’d actually install a different system just for their area and then it’s easier to just charge them for that usage (if you wanted to handle the rent that way).

  34. I tried this ‘use it when you need it’ trick and it cost me more. Leaving it on 80 when I leave and 72 when im home averaged out 35-40 kwh a day. Leaving it on 74 all day averaged out 30-35 kwh. Same type of climate outdoors. ~85 degrees 60-75% humidity

    1. That’s surprising. I’ve left mine at a constant temperature before and it ended up costing me a ton of money. I use my programmable thermostat to pick the times and we’ve been able to reduce our overall costs.

  35. The issue I have is not the cost of the unit start up but having to remove all of the built up heat in the walls furniture etc. have you taken this into consideration?

  36. Cats like it warmer 80 to 85 plus but dogs do best in temps between 65 and 75. I keep my heat between 65 and 67 and the house ac set at 73. Any temp above 73 and both my dogs throw up. My pets health is more important than saving a few bucks a month plus coming home to a house smelling like vomit is gross. I also have an energy star window ac unit and a potrable ac that I set to 65 with the house fan running for my dogs area and most days my upstairs in the hall where the thermostat is won’t turn on until around 2pm when it reaches 73 with the other units running. The most I have spent in a month on electric in August was $180. It has to reach 90 outside before my house ac turns on bc of the other small units I use. A lot of days my house AC doesn’t come on.

  37. After reading that one sleeps better at 65-68 I started turning the central AC down at night. Then I’d set the thermostat up to 80 for the day. Fortunately the house was well insulated, in Texas, and the nights a lot cooler than the days. The AC didn’t run much during days and our electric bill actually dropped a little year over year.

  38. I work from home, and I have a pet. I turn the AC off in the morning, and leave it off for 11 hours daily. When the family is due to come home, I turn it on. I live in Florida, but fortunately in a block home, which generally does not get above 80 to 85 degrees most days. My family thinks I’m crazy, but I’m the one that has to write the checks. I smile when I see my electric bill instead of cry. Also, I know this saves stress on the A/C unit. It saves, at the very minimum, $50 per month on my electric bill. Additionally I hang all my clothes out to dry, and I use my dryer only if I absolutely have to. I just watched the radar closely and carry my portable clothes lines inside if necessary to finish drying inside.

  39. Obviously, you must turn off your AC while nobody is in the room. It’s like one of the money wastage if you keep it on all the time even while there is none in the room. I also turn off my AC while I set off my room for office and turn on it at night at the time of sleeping.

  40. I don’t leave my air conditioners (they are all window style) when I’m not home and it has nothing to do with saving energy.

    Where I live, there is a very real chance to have thunderstorms-or the threat of thunderstorms-sometimes without any warning at any given time.

    I believe running air conditioners during thunder storms is very dangerous and a fire hazard. Therefore, I turn them off when I’m away to prevent this risk.

    As a side note while I’ve got your attention-I alternate air conditioners-two during the day and two at night. To use all four at once would create too much of a power surge and would blow a fuse.

    I also have one on the (non-heated) porch. I would LOVE to have the porch heated in the winter but that would be tens of thousands of major constructions…and that’s another blog but if the blog owner wishes to comment privately….

    1. We have thunderstorms all the time where I live in the Summer. I’ve never heard anyone talk about the issues with running them during storms. I don’t see the threat to be honest.

  41. THANK you for getting a direct quote from an expert about the Legend of the Always-On AC: no, it does not save you money to leave the unit chugging away while you’re gone. Here in lovely uptown Arizona, I turn the thermostat down to around 78 at night (with fans, this makes it plenty cool for sleeping) and then jack it up to 80 during the day. Overall, if you’re not trying to sleep. 80 degrees is not uncomfortable — especially if you can dip in the pool off and on during the day. When I was working, I’d program the thermostat to go up to 82 or so during the day and then drop back down to 80 an hour or two before I got home; then into the high 70s around 10 p.m.. The Nest and similar programmable devices are excellent for this purpose. And yup: power bills were significantly lower when this strategy was engaged.

  42. I’ve kept mine at 81 during Southern AZ summers. The bill is also on a program to be one price for 12 months, then recalculated for the next year. So no surprises in the summer and reliable budgeting.

    I turned it to 91 when I left for a week last month. House temp was 86 when I walked back in the door seven days later.

    System set at 81 and ceiling and box fans work just fine.

    Everything I do now determines what I pay per month next year. And there’s really only a range from 65 to 86 inside the house between winter and summer.

    Just replaced the HVAC system last year and want it to last. It doesn’t need to be anywhere near 72, even at night for me.