Should I change the temperature of my thermostat when I am not at home?

The short answer is yes, but be careful. What many people don’t realize is that your HVAC system isn’t just raising or lowering the temperature of the air in your house, but it is also affecting the temperature of your insulation. If you just turn your air conditioner or heater off every time you leave the house, then you can actually see an increase in your energy bill.

How is this possible? Simply put, it takes hours for your HVAC unit to penetrate the walls of your house – that’s the whole point of insulation! If you allow the outside temperature to infiltrate your insulation all day, then your air conditioner or heater will have to spend additional energy cooling or heating it back to your desired temperature. This can sometimes cost you more than if you had just set it a few degrees higher or lower before you left the house.

Here are a few tips to save money on energy:

  • In the summer, set your thermostat 5 degrees higher than your ideal temperature when you leave the house.
  • Only turn your system completely off if you are planning to be gone longer than 24-hours.
  • Buy an air conditioner with a high SEER rating, but realize that SEER isn’t everything.

Or instead of dealing with the hassle, get more efficient equipment or a Smart Thermostat.

In most US homes, over 40% of a household’s electricity bill is a result of air conditioning and heating, and in Santa Clarita, California and other arid climates it can be over 50%.

The ideal daytime temperature comfort range for most Americans is between 70 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit.  So setting your thermostat to the highest temperature in this range during the summer months is key to reducing energy costs.  Set your thermostat to 75 if you can handle it, or even higher if it is comfortable but don’t sacrifice your comfort.  At that point, why even bother having an air conditioner?

At night, the ideal temperature range for Americans drops to 65 to 72 degrees Fahrenheit (or about 87 degrees if you are my wife).  Don’t hesitate to lower your thermostat at night though, because your air conditioner actually works less at night than it does during the day due to lower outside temperatures and the fact that the sun is no longer hitting your house causing radiant heating.

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