Should you turn off your air conditioner when you leave the house?

If you have ever wondered whether it is better to leave your air conditioner on or turn it off, you are not alone. Most homeowners ask this question at some point. The answer varies depending on who you ask, but it can also depend on individual factors.

For example, you need to consider the type of home you have and how long you will be gone when deciding whether it is better to turn the AC off. Shutting off your AC at the right times can reduce your energy needs, resulting in lower bills and a lighter carbon footprint.

However, saving money is not always as easy as shutting your air conditioner off altogether each and every time you leave the house. Read below to learn about the pros and cons of turning off the AC and discover what points you should consider when deciding whether to turn off your air conditioning unit or when to just change the temperature.

Determine How Long You Will be Gone

It is easy to assume that shutting off your AC every time you leave the house is the best way to cut down on your energy bills. While it is true that using your AC less often will lead to lower costs over time, this is not always the best practice when it comes to cutting down on energy usage.

Before deciding whether to shut off your air conditioner, always ask yourself how long you will be gone. The length of time you are away can significantly affect your decision regarding whether to keep the AC on or switch it off.

Managing Your AC During the Day

Leaving the house for a quick errand does not warrant shutting off the air conditioner completely. However, if you will be gone for more than eight hours, some experts recommend turning the temperature up to a higher setting so that the AC uses less energy while you are away.

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For example, you can turn the temperature from 70 degrees up to 78 degrees while you are out of the house, then take it back down to a comfortable level when you get home.

What to Do When You Leave for Vacation

If you will be gone for more than a day or two, you will have to decide what your primary goal is: save money or keep your humidity levels low. If you want to save money, you can do that by turning the air conditioner completely off for the entire time that you are gone.

However, if your goal is to control humidity in the home and keep it at a relatively comfortable level, your best bet is to leave the AC on. When you are away for vacation, closing the blinds can also reduce the demand on your air conditioner, thus lowering your power bills.

Pros and Cons of Turning the AC Off

Turning off your AC can and will save money if you are gone for a long period of time. Before you make up your mind, though, it is important to learn about the other pros and cons of leaving your air conditioner on or off.

Benefits of Turning Off the AC

The biggest benefit of turning off your AC is that it will reduce your costs while the unit is off. Once you turn the unit back on at full power, some experts say that your AC actually runs more efficiently.

Cooling your home from 80 degrees to 70 degrees, for example, requires the unit to run at full speed. At this speed, some AC units are more effective at dehumidifying the air compared to units that are set at a constant temperature all day.

Benefits of Leaving Your AC On

Turning your AC off for a long period of time might be good when you are on vacation, but most experts agree that it is better for your house to leave the AC on when you are gone. For one thing, your AC has to work much harder in order to return your home to a cool temperature after it has been off for a long period of time.

Getting your home back to its usual temperature can lead to a high rate of energy consumption while also putting your unit under strain if you do this on a daily basis. More importantly, keeping your AC on is generally considered to be better for your home itself. The main purpose of an air conditioner is to keep temperatures low, but many people do not realize that AC units also dehumidify the air.

Coming home to a hot and humid house after turning your AC off is not just uncomfortable. It can also have negative effects on your home. Too much humidity in the air can lead to issues such as:

  • Mold growth. Mold loves damp and humid environments, and growth can happen rapidly if the humidity level in your home exceeds 60 percent for an extended period of time.
  • Bug infestations. Bugs thrive in warm and humid conditions, making pest control more challenging if your home becomes humid.
  • Damage to fabrics. Furniture, bedding and curtains are all susceptible to damage from excessive humidity.
  • Condensation on windows and walls. Condensation can quickly lead to mildew and rot, which may affect your window sills and even damage the paint on your walls.
  • Damage to wood. If you have wood floors or furniture, fluctuating humidity levels can lead to swelling and buckling, which can weaken joints and make furniture wobbly.

Why Turning Down Your AC is a Better Option

If you are still struggling with the decision to turn your AC off or leave it on when you leave, there is a third option: turning the temperature up. According to the Energy Department, turning your thermostat up seven to 10 degrees when you are not in the house can save as much as 10 percent on your cooling bills. For example, if you like your house to be at 68 degrees in the summer, simply turning the temperature up to 78 when you are at work can save you energy and money.

Getting a programmable thermostat is an excellent way to control the temperature in your home automatically. With a programmable thermostat, you can have the temperature turned up during the day. If you program it correctly, it will automatically turn back down before you even get home, ensuring you arrive at a comfortably cooled house.

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