Summer in Sarasota brings with it the annual debate: does turning off the A/C when you’re out of the house lower the electric bill? Three answers always pop up: yes, no and it depends. A better choice is also available to anyone who reaches out to their friendly HVAC contractor. Let’s look at the choices.
Option 1: Turn it Off and Save Money
If you absolutely know your home’s temperature won’t rise above 86 degrees while you’re out, you can save a little money by turning off the A/C. Be careful to keep these points in mind:
- Pets can’t tolerate high heat any more than humans can.
- Medications can be ruined.
- Heat-producing appliances may run while you’re out.
- Turning off the A/C isn’t the best solution.
Option 2: Turning the A/C Off Doesn’t Always Save Money
Central air conditioners work at the same rate regardless of starting temperature. Unless you have a variable-speed air handler, air flows at a constant rate. So either the central air conditioner runs intermittently while you’re out, or it runs a long time when you get home. Be careful, however, because:
- Most central air conditioners work most efficiently running full speed for long periods.
- Frequent on and off cycles increases wear and tear.
- Leaving it on isn’t the best solution,
Option 3: It Depends on the Weather
The greater the difference between outside temperatures and your desired indoor temperature, the more energy you use. At 80 degrees, you use just a little energy to keep the empty home at 76 degrees. At 100 degrees, you waste energy cooling an empty house.
The Best Alternative
Have your HVAC contractor install zoned cooling areas controlled by programmable thermostats.
- A zoning system allows higher temperatures in seldom-used areas, with more frequently occupied spaces set at a cooler, comfortable degrees.
- Set programmable thermostats for empty-house setpoints around 10 degrees higher than your comfort level.
- Because the A/C will still turn on at the higher setpoint, pets and medications are protected.
- Use this same higher setpoint overnight.
For better ways to save than turning off the A/C in your Sarasota home, contact us at Aqua Plumbing & Air.
Written by John Miller
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