No, you shouldn’t turn off your air conditioner to save on your electricity bills

We all want to save money and the summer heat doesn’t make it easy for us. When you go out of town or commute to work, raising the thermostat is the best option.

AUSTIN, Texas – How you run your air conditioner directly affects your electric bill.

A post on Reddit reveals: “Man… I’ve been doing tests and in this heat there’s no point in turning off the AC unless I’m going to be gone all day. If I turn it off for four hours and then turn it back on when I get home later, it uses just as much power, if not more.”


“Could everyone turn off their air conditioner during the day to lower their electric bills?”



That's wrong.

No, depending on the outside temperature and because the performance and energy efficiency of air conditioning varies from house to house, some people can save and others can’t. Even those who save risk other problems.


The best air conditioning option to save money is to raise the thermostat a few degrees during the day and make other energy-conscious choices.

“It also has to do with how efficient your air conditioning is. It has to do with how efficient and well sealed your home is, how well insulated it is. This is how air conditioning works when it transports heat from the inside to the outside. And when it’s really hot outside and they don’t have a good option, they don’t have a good place to vent that heat. So it’s much harder for them to move that heat from the inside out,” Hinson said.

Pecan Street uses data, technology and research to educate businesses and governments on pathways to transition to a low-carbon energy system.

“When we do our engineering studies on this subject, we almost never use a single house in a single day because there are too many variables. There is temperature, sunshine and exact things used in the house that day. So we don’t use a single house. We use hundreds of homes over the course of many days, months or years. We correct the temperature with cooling degree days and heating degree days and all sorts of stuff to make those calculations. There are many factors: the efficiency, the air conditioning, the efficiency of the house. It all depends,” Hinson said.

“Depending on how hot it is outside, it can take a very long time for the system to recover. Central air conditioning systems in residential buildings are not designed, or should not be designed, to quickly restore the temperature in the home,” Janowiak said.

Janowiak said radiant temperature is the most effective way to measure a home’s temperature.

“It may take a long time for the temperature to recover. But we’re not just trying to restore the temperature of the air. It’s the walls, it’s the furniture. It’s all in. All of these surfaces will continue to give off heat,” said Janowiak.

Brandt said people could spend more energy cooling a home after they get home.

“Most people don’t see the overall effect,” Brandt said.

He said an energy analysis computer program could help.

“It’s situational. That’s the word I want to use. So it has some value, but not in all cases,” said Janowiak.

Both Hinson and Janowiak said turning off the air conditioner could also increase humidity levels in the home, which can lead to other problems like mold.

“If we’re seeing temperatures that we normally see for 80% of our summer, it’s not going to run enough to get rid of the humidity. So you’re trying to solve a problem, but you’re creating a bigger problem on the other end. So there is a process. Air Conditioning Contractors of America has a set of design manuals and we recommend that people follow these design rules,” said Janowiak.

Janowiak suggests investing in energy-saving improvements like extra insulation and airtightness.

“People don’t want to spend money on DIY for things that you can’t invite and show the neighbors to do. Okay, nobody’s going to say, ‘Come out. Look, I have more insulation.’ It just doesn’t happen,” said Janowiak.

The Department of Energy offers a comprehensive guide to other ways to save money and energy at home.

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Laura Coffey

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