As temperatures skyrocket during the dog days of summer, so do air conditioning costs as we work to maintain climate control within our homes. But finding a way to keep AC usage in check can prevent utility bills from getting too high. In fact, according to the Department of Energy, you’ll save approximately 3 percent on your utility bill for every degree you raise the set temperature for your central air.
While the temperature you choose to keep your central air set to is ultimately a matter of your own personal comfort, Energy Star recommends that for optimal cooling and energy efficiency, you should keep your house set to 78 degrees Fahrenheit when you’re home and awake, 85 degrees Fahrenheit when you’re at work or away, and 82 degrees Fahrenheit when you’re sleeping.
If that sounds a little too toasty for your liking, try going down by 1 degree at a time (bearing in mind the 3 percent savings per degree formula). Or, if you can handle the heat, go up a degree or two to lower your energy bill, and try some of these other suggestions from Consumer Reports for cooling off at home:
- Use your ceiling fan or box fans, if you have them, which will create a wind chill effect in your home, provided the humidity isn’t too high.
- If you have a programmable thermostat, use your smartphone to set your AC to shut off then turn on an hour before you arrive home. That way it’s off for a good chunk of the day.
- If the temperature is really on the rise outside, avoid using appliances like your washer and dryer, dishwasher and oven, which will generate more heat.
- Avoid cooking indoors altogether by eating cold foods, like salads, sandwiches and smoothies, or grilling outside.
The best tip of all? Next time you’re about to complain about the heat, remember what it felt like on a cold winter day. Your warm home suddenly might not feel so warm after all!