Thermostats have almost become an enigma among Virginia households. Anytime someone asks, “What should I set my thermostat to save money?”, it’s met with a number of different responses, of which, only a few are really applicable to any given household.
The truth is, setting your thermostat in the warmer months doesn’t have to be so complicated. Taking into account your family’s comfort and short vs. long-term savings, you can very likely run your home’s A/C on one simple rule – Set it and forget it!
While programmable thermostats can be a lifesaver in terms of short-term savings and home comfort, putting your system through consistent temperature shifts can harm your energy efficiency and place unnecessary wear and tear on your unit. Always keep in mind that whatever you set your thermostat to, your system will eventually have to overcompensate to return your home, or a given area, back to a comfortable temperature.
Unless you are on the brink of a seasonal shift in weather, the warm weather that you allowed to buildup in your home is going to stick around until your unit kicks back on again. Once it does, it is forced to work twice as hard to attain the same comfortable temperature. So while you are saving up to 6% of your energy per each degree you increase your thermostat and your unit doesn’t have to run as much, your savings go right back into re-cooling your house.
What should I set my thermostat to in the summer?
The average person does not sweat until the temperature rises above 78 degrees. This is why most HVAC specialists and energy saving buffs recommend setting your thermostat to 78 degrees in the warm season. On days where the temperature does not drop below 78 during the daytime, it’s best to maintain one setting in order to prevent your system from overworking. This setting also prevents residents from experiencing harsh shifts in temperature when leaving their homes.
Pro tip: A desk, box or ceiling fan can go a long way towards helping you feel cooler without actually cooling the room further. Fans use up significantly less energy than your A/C unit, so you can stay comfortable while also keeping your home energy efficient.
Unique factors that can affect home comfort
Each household will have exceptions to the standard 78 degrees in the warmer months. If you have the budget, then discussing these factors will help promote a comfortable home for all residents.
- Hormones (especially for those experience times of great hormone fluctuations – pregnancy & menopause)
- Glandular disorder – While the average person perspires when the temps hit 78, those that sweat at cooler temperatures will want to avoid excessive perspiration with a more appropriate thermostat setting.
- Sleep habits – A great night’s sleep is a must for any lifestyle. If you are a cool sleeper, a simple fan may not be enough to keep you from waking up in a sweat. Be certain to set the thermostat to accommodate cool sleepers during spring and summer.
- Time spent in the home – Certain programmable thermostats can be set depending on the day of the week. This is great for households on the go. You can avoid energy efficiency issues by increasing the thermostat setting while you are away, but only if the temperature drops enough by the time you return home at night to assist your unit in re-cooling your home.
- Where time is spent (hot air rises, which makes spending time upstairs less comfortable)
- Humidity – Humidity can make any home uncomfortable. Don’t continue to set your thermostat lower and lower to attempt to make your home comfortable if humidity is the issue. Instead, invest in a dehumidifier or and A/C unit that controls humidity in order to create a comfortable home.
- Sunlight – Skylights and poorly shaded windows can let in heat from the sun. Be aware that those that spend time in these rooms will not be as comfortable as residents in rooms with less sunlight in the summer.
What about zoning my home in the summer?
Attempting to zone your home in the summer can get a bit dicey. Yes, zoning can save you money on your monthly bill, however, just like raising your settings or shutting off your system, you run into the issue of re-cooling a room or section of your home that is now much warmer than it would have been if you would have just maintained a consistent thermostat setting at the beginning of spring.
If at all possible, consider your schedule at the start of the warm season when attempting to zone your home. If you aren’t expecting guests until late fall, feel free to zone off your guest bedroom and bathroom.
Setting your thermostat while on summer vacation
The same mentality can go into your “away” or “vacation” mode settings. If you’re going to be gone through a temperature transition, then it’s okay to shut your system off and allow your home to naturally release the heat that gathered during summer when you get back in the fall.
If you’re gone for just a few weeks or less, only increase your settings by 4 degrees at the most. This will keep your system from using too much energy while you are away, but prevent it from having to struggle to replenish your home with the cool air you need to stay comfortable.
At Fire & Ice HVAC, we know that marrying home comfort and energy savings can be a struggle. We also understand that every home has different needs. If you feel as though you need additional guidance beyond this post, please don’t hesitate to contact our Woodbridge HVAC office at 703-496-5527 to speak with one of our licensed HVAC specialists.