Do You Know How Cold Is Too Cold for Summer AC Settings?

When it comes to AC thermostat settings in the summer, how cold is too cold? On a hot Terre Haute summer day, maximum cool comfort sounds like a perk, not a problem. After all, air conditioners are supposed to be cold, aren’t they?

Generally speaking, a typical residential air conditioner is only designed to reduce indoor temperatures about 20 degrees below the outdoor temperature. Therefore, thermostat settings below this lower limit can be counterproductive, as they are unlikely to make the house any cooler, and they can definitely inflict excess wear and tear on system components and raise monthly operating costs as the system runs longer — with little effect on indoor temperatures.

How Cold Is Too Cold?

The U.S. Department of Energy recommends an average of 78 degrees for the AC’s thermostat setting. Venturing very far below that setting — even on hot days — risks a number of adverse consequences to comfort, efficiency, and system reliability. Here are some factors that directly impact the question of how cold is too cold when it comes to summer AC thermostat settings.

  • Lower thermostat settings don’t actually make the air conditioner produce cooler air. An air conditioner always produces air at the same rate and temperature. A lower thermostat setting just means the AC runs longer and produces a greater volume of conditioned air.
  • Longer cycles mean the AC compressor — the most costly component in the system — runs hotter, potentially resulting in a reduced service life for the compressor.
  • Extended AC cycles can also have negative consequences by triggering ice formation in the indoor evaporator coil. It’s normal for the coil to be wet from condensation during normal operation. Excessively long cycles due to low thermostat settings can freeze this condensation, however, blocking natural airflow through the coil. This is another scenario that could trigger an automatic system shutdown or damage critical components.

To get a professional opinion on the issue of: How cold is too cold?,  ask the cooling experts at Paitson Bros. We’ve been keeping Wabash Valley homes comfortable for the past 99 summers.

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    Jeff Paitson Jeff Paitson is a third generation business owner who continues to run the business with the same values that have been passed down from previous generations since 1922.

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