Each year, North Carolinians look forward to a holiday getaway, whether it’s for a few weeks or a long weekend. When they get back, they may be surprised by the size of their power bill. A few simple steps can keep your air conditioning running efficiently while you’re gone, without an unexpected expense. Follow these tips to make sure you’re getting the most out of your system without taking the most out of your paycheck.
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, you can save roughly 1 percent for each degree adjustment if you keep it at that level for eight hours. If you cut it back 10 to 15 degrees for eight hours, your savings can increase to 5 to 15 percent.
First things first—do NOT turn off your air conditioning unit.
If you turn it off, the air won’t circulate—meaning it has time to condensate, when can lead to mold and other problems.
Setting the temperature at 85 degrees may mean you have a warm home to return to, but you’ll be able to keep your AC unit in good condition without wasting energy.
Be careful not to set the temperature too high because it can damage surfaces such as wood floors. Remember that wood expands when exposed to heat, so the last thing you want to return home to is a buckled and warped floor.
It’s a common misconception that the AC works “harder” to get your house back to a comfortable temperature. In fact, a higher temperature inside your home will use less energy because the air flow is slower.
While it may be tempting to turn the AC off entirely, remember that all your windows and doors will be locked and shut while you’re gone. Depending upon the size of your home, it can turn a smaller apartment into a sauna.
Remember, those who lived in the sweltering South before air conditioning kept their windows open constantly. Combined with the high ceilings, this set up a natural ventilation system. When you’re away, all your doors and windows are sealed.
If it’s 90 degrees outside, the inside of your home can reach triple digits easily within a week.
Don’t forget your electronics! Laptops and other devices start to have trouble at anything above 95 degrees Fahrenheit.
Programmable thermostats save time and money
The best bang for your buck? A programmable thermostat. These are particularly useful if you have a seasonal home or you travel extensively. You can set the thermostat to reduce AC when no one is in the house and slowly crank it up when you’re at home.
There are several types of programmable thermostats:
- If your schedule changes a lot from day to day, 7-day models provide more flexibility.
- If you tend to have a regular weekday schedule, but a different weekend one, try a 5+2-day model.
- Are your Saturdays and Sundays different, but your workday schedule remains the same? Try a 5-1-1 model.
There are several considerations for your programmable thermostat, and a heating and air conditioning maintenance professional has the answers you need.
Remember: Where you place the thermostat makes a big difference. If it’s in direct sunlight or near drafts or vents, it may give “ghost readings.” These can affect output.
It’s a good idea to have a home inspection before the summer gets into full swing. HVAC technicians will check vents, filters and other aspects of your unit—including your thermostat.
You work hard all year, saving money for a wonderful vacation. A high air conditioning bill shouldn’t be a part of that budget. Following these tips – and considering investment in a programmable thermostat—can help you be more energy efficient. Your home and your wallet will thank you.
Betcha didn’t know that!