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What Temperature Should I Set My Air Conditioner in Summer?

The summer months are when you rely most on your air conditioner system to keep your home comfortably cool. What’s more, choosing the best AC setting for summer can be a challenge; not only must you consider your comfort level, but also the expenses that come with running your AC. Striking the right balance between these two elements is the key to keeping your home cool and your costs low. In this article, we’ve explained the best air conditioning settings for summer, along with some extra energy-saving tips for cost-effective summer cooling.

As per the advice of the EPA, 78°F is the ideal temperature to set your air conditioner in the summer.

At this setting, you should be able to keep your home at a comfortable temperature using the lowest possible energy consumption. As such, 78°F is the best summer AC temperature if bills are your biggest concern. If this setting doesn’t feel cool enough for you, try a slightly lower temperature between 72°F and 77°F. However, take note that every degree you lower the AC by will raise your energy bills in tandem. You may need to go through a process of gradual adjustments to reach the ideal setting for both your comfort and your energy costs. 

What Temperature Should I Set My Air Conditioner in Summer?

The general recommendation for using your air conditioner in summer is to set it at a temperature between 72°F to 78°F. For most, the best setting for an air conditioner in the summer is 78°F; this will provide an ideal balance of keeping your home cool while consuming as little energy as possible.

According to the Department of Energy, the ideal temperature to set an air conditioner in summer is 78°F. They recommend this setting as a way to keep your home at an optimally cool temperature using the lowest possible energy consumption. Consequently, you’ll save money on your energy bills, while also reducing the environmental impact of the usage of your AC. As such, 78°F is the best summer temperature setting for your AC if you’re primarily concerned about your energy consumption. 

However, for your individual situation, the exact answer to this question can vary. We all feel the heat in different ways, and for some, 78°F isn’t enough to keep their home comfortably cool. You should use this temperature as a starting point; then, if your home still feels too warm at 78°F, try reducing it by a degree at a time. Continue adjusting the settings for your AC system in this way until you reach the ideal temperature for your preferences.

Following what we’ve just said, it’s important to note that energy consumption rises with every degree you raise your AC by. More specifically, every 1-degree increase equates to a 3% increase in energy consumption and its related costs. For instance, if you set your air conditioner to 75°F  instead of 78°F, it will use 9% more energy. In turn, your cooling costs will also increase by 9%. This is just something to keep in mind when choosing your typical air conditioner setting in the summer. 

Energy-Saving Tips for Using Your Air Conditioner in Summer

Being mindful of your air conditioner settings isn’t the only means of keeping your home cool in the summer. Beyond AC settings, there are a few more ways in which you can reduce your summer cooling expenses; we’ve detailed below our most effective tips for minimizing your energy consumption and cooling costs in the summer. 

1. Use Fans for Cheaper Cooling

Ceiling, standing, and table fans use less electricity to run than your air conditioning system. You can utilize these alternative cooling sources to reduce your energy consumption during the summer.

Fans don’t necessarily cool the air temperature in a room like an AC system does, but they do increase airflow. This increased airflow will still help you to feel cool and comfortable in hot weather, with the added benefit of lower energy bills. Running a fan uses much less energy than an AC unit, especially the smaller-sized table fans; if you have a larger room, larger box fans and tower fans are still a great alternative. A fan of any size will use less energy than running your AC for the equivalent time. You can easily move these standalone fans from room to room as you require.

2.  Use These Tricks to Keep Your Home Naturally Cooler

There are a few tricks you can use to keep the temperature in your home as low as possible without using any electricity. We’ve listed these tricks below:

  • Close over your curtains or blinds to reduce heat from sunlight hitting your windows. It may be worthwhile investing in heat-reflective window film; this film reduces heat from sunlight by bouncing the sun’s rays away from your windows.
  • At night, open your windows instead of running your AC. The cooler nighttime air temperatures will naturally keep the indoor temperature low. Then, in the daytime, ensure to keep your windows shut to seal in the cool air. 
  • Add weather stripping to the seals of your windows and doors. This acts as insulation to keep the cool air in and the hot air out. 
  • When possible, avoid using any appliances that generate heat, especially during the day. For instance, appliances like ovens, clothes dryers, and hair dryers can all contribute to a higher indoor air temperature.

3. Invest in a Programmable Thermostat for Your AC

Programmable thermostats are beneficial for both saving energy and your time. They can be pre-set to automatically turn on and off as per your requirements. 

It can be a hassle to continuously change the settings on the thermostat on your AC throughout the day. It’s also easy to forget to adjust your thermostat temperature when you leave the house or go to bed. A programmable thermostat gives you full control over this daily task by allowing you to pre-set the AC’s operations; then, when you need to, it’s possible to manually override the settings ad-hoc without affecting the pre-settings. 

One step above this is to get a ‘smart’ programmable thermostat. These thermostats come with additional features beyond their programmability. For example, you can adjust the settings on your AC from anywhere in the world with a smart thermostat. You can also program the thermostat to modify its temperature based on the humidity level in your home. After using a smart thermostat for a while, it will retain your preferred settings to adjust the temperature of your home automatically. Some models offer further features, like notifying you of unit issues, reminding you when to replace air filters, and tracking your energy usage in real-time.

4. Set Thermostat to a Warmer Temperature When Out of the Home

An easy way to lower your energy bills is by setting your thermostat to a warmer temperature during the hours that your home is empty. This is actually more cost-effective than shutting off the air conditioning system altogether.

You may think that the best way to save money is to shut off the AC entirely when no one’s home. In actual fact, this will end up costing more; the AC has to work harder to cool your home back down when you return and switch it on again. Instead of shutting off the AC when the house is empty, raise the temperature on the thermostat by about 10°F.  Doing so could potentially save you up to 10% on your energy bill. This is the most efficient way to use your AC in the summer, both energy-wise and cost-wise.

To repeat the advice in the previous tip, a smart thermostat can be greatly beneficial for purposes such as this. You can program these thermostats to automatically raise and lower the AC temperature at certain times based on your schedule. 

5. Avoid Adjusting Air Conditioning Settings for Fast Relief

Avoid attempting to cool your home more quickly by setting the thermostat to a colder temperature. This may seem like it would work in theory, however, in reality, it does not.

Setting the thermostat at a lower temperature than the one you ultimately want will not cool your home more quickly. Your air conditioning system will reduce the indoor air temperature at the same rate regardless of how low you set the thermostat. If anything, doing this will only lead to unnecessarily high expenses from the excessive use of the cooling system. 

6. Upgrade Your AC System with an Energy Star Rated Air Conditioner

Consider investing in a new air conditioning unit that has been ‘Energy Star-rated’. These AC units are much more efficient than traditional units that lack an Energy Star rating.

Energy Star-rated appliances are those which have been rated as highly efficient by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Also backed by the US Department of Energy, the EPA created the Energy Star program to achieve two main goals:

  1. The program aims to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases, along with other pollutants that arise from the use of inefficient appliances.
  2. The program also exists for the benefit of the US consumer, helping people to find energy-efficient products more easily; the criteria that an Energy Star-rated appliance must meet is that it uses less energy at no expense of its quality, performance, or features. 

Air conditioners are one such product that can come with an Energy Star rating. Due to their efficiency, switching to an Energy Star-rated AC unit can reduce your cooling expenses by up to 50%.  A key feature of these high-efficiency units is that they recycle the water they use; also, the majority of these units come with the additional benefit of being highly reliable in extreme temperatures up to 131°F. With that in mind, you should consider investing in a high-efficiency AC unit to greatly reduce your summer cooling bills.


Schedule a HVAC repair anywhere in the Minneapolis or St. Paul area today by calling (651) 294-7798 or by requesting an estimate online.


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