Should You Turn Off Your AC Unit While You’re Away?

Turn Off Your AC UnitAs long as nobody else is home — including indoor pets — why not just turn off AC when you’re away? Cooling an unoccupied house may seem like a waste of money, especially as local utility rates continue to rise. Air conditioning is a major part of monthly energy costs, so what are the drawbacks of shutting off the unit entirely if there’s no one home to enjoy it?

Sounds good, but the decision to turn off AC has some potentially uncool consequences:

  • In an environment of excessively high indoor temperatures, refrigerators, freezers, and other temperature-sensitive appliances may run almost continuously. This can raise monthly costs and/or cause malfunction of these units.
  • An air conditioner plays a major role in controlling indoor humidity as well. Extreme summer humidity accumulating inside an overheated house can damage electronics such as computers, warp natural materials such as wood flooring, and spawn indoor mold contamination that can be a health hazard.

A Happy Medium

Most experts favor a compromise when it comes to cooling an unoccupied house. If you’re only going to be gone during the day at work, for example — or a weekend getaway — instead of opting to turn off AC entirely, it’s preferable to simply raise the thermostat setting. University studies show that raising the thermostat five or 10 degrees while you’re gone can save as much as 10% on electricity costs. At the same time, the indoor temperature still remains low enough to prevent heat and humidity damage.

Other benefits of the balanced approach include:

  • A higher indoor temperature setting means shorter cooling cycles and reduced AC wear.
  • Per the laws of thermodynamics, a slightly warmer house actually absorbs less outdoor heat.
  • When you return home, you can quickly restore the desired temperature instead of waiting hours to cool a very overheated house.

Wondering when to turn off AC for the best results? Contact the cooling experts at Paitson Bros. We’ve been your trusted source for experienced advice since 1922.

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