Busting Myths: Turning Off Your Air Conditioner During Summer Heat Won’t Save Energy or Money!

Jul 5, 2023 | air conditioning, HVAC

An Unexpected Summer Secret

Think about this scenario: It’s a scorching summer day in Arizona, with the mercury nudging past the 100-degree mark. As you prepare to step out, your instincts kick in – save power, save money. You reach for the thermostat, ready to turn off your air conditioner. But hold on! Before you plunge your home into a hot and stuffy silence, we’ve got a game-changing revelation that could redefine your energy-saving strategy. Stay tuned, because we’re about to debunk a long-held myth about your trusty air conditioner.

Unmasking the Myth: The Unexpected Truth About Your Air Conditioner

Air conditioners are our saviors during the relentless Arizona summer heat. Their soft humming a symphony to our ears, promising cool and comfortable interiors. But did you know they do more than just combat the heat? They also regulate the humidity levels in your home, keeping the environment comfortable and safe for you and your beloved furniture.

And here lies the catch: When you shut off your air conditioner, the indoor temperature rises, yes, but so does the humidity. This means when you return home and switch the air conditioner back on, it has to work doubly hard. It has to not only bring down the temperature but also extract the excess moisture from the air.

This double duty can cause your air conditioner to consume more energy than it would if left on at a higher temperature setting, thereby negating any savings you thought you were making by turning it off. Yes, that’s right! Turning off your air conditioner when you leave home during the day could be costing you more money than it saves.

FAQ: Energy Efficiency and Air Conditioner Use

But don’t appliances consume more energy when they’re constantly on?

While this is generally true for most appliances, air conditioners are a bit of an exception. Air conditioners work most efficiently when they’re maintaining a certain temperature, not when they’re working hard to reach it. Once your house is cooled down, your air conditioner actually needs less energy to maintain that temperature than to cool it down from a high temperature after being off for a while.

Decoding the Thermostat: The Real Money Saver

Now that we have busted one myth, let’s tackle another: the off-button strategy. Instead of shutting off your air conditioner completely when leaving home, simply raise the temperature by a few degrees. This compromise allows your air conditioner to manage humidity and temperature levels effectively without draining excessive energy.

Here are some expert tips to help you maximize your air conditioner’s energy efficiency:

  1. Set a Higher Temperature: If you typically set the thermostat to 72 degrees when you’re home, consider upping it to 78 degrees. And when you’re going to be away, a setting around 85 degrees works well. This prevents your air conditioner from working overtime while still maintaining a relatively comfortable indoor climate.
  2. Use a Programmable Thermostat: A programmable thermostat can be preset to change temperatures at different times of the day. This is especially useful if you have a predictable routine. You can set it to cool down your house right before you return, ensuring you come back to a comfortable home while also saving on your energy bills.
  3. Ensure Regular Maintenance: Just like your car, your air conditioner needs regular maintenance to function efficiently. This includes cleaning or replacing filters, checking for leaks, and ensuring the refrigerant levels are adequate. Dirty filters, low refrigerant levels, or other issues can cause your air conditioner to work harder, leading to higher energy consumption.

The Tale of the Wasteful Air Conditioner

Meet John, a resident of Tempe, Arizona. John loved his home but was constantly struggling with high energy bills. He was sure that his tactic of turning off his air conditioner during the workday would save him money. But, despite his best efforts, he couldn’t understand why his energy bills were still sky-high.

One day, he decided to consult with us at A/C and Refrigeration. After a thorough inspection of his air conditioner and energy usage patterns, we explained the concept we’ve been discussing in this article. Surprised and a bit skeptical, John decided to follow our advice. He began adjusting his thermostat instead of turning off the air conditioner completely.

To his amazement, there was a noticeable decrease in his next month’s bill. And the next. And the next. He had finally found the key to managing his energy bills without having to return home to a furnace.

The Science of Saving: Why this Works

The key principle behind why this strategy works is rooted in how air conditioners function. An air conditioner does two primary things to cool your home. It removes heat and it removes moisture.

When you shut off your AC, both heat and moisture accumulate in your home. Turning it back on makes your AC work on overdrive to remove both, using more energy in the process. By keeping your AC on, but at a higher temperature, you limit the accumulation of heat and moisture, and in turn, reduce the energy required to cool your home when you return.

It’s Your Turn!

We’ve thrown a lot of information your way, and now, we’d love to hear from you. How do you manage your energy bills during the relentless Arizona summer heat? Are you a thermostat adjuster, or do you believe in turning off your air conditioner? Have you noticed any trends or tricks that work for you? Share your thoughts, experiences, and questions in the comments below!

If you need expert advice on optimizing your air conditioner’s energy efficiency, or if you have any other HVAC related questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to us at A/C and Refrigeration. Our team of skilled professionals is committed to keeping your home cool and comfortable without breaking the bank. With regular maintenance, energy-efficient practices, and a little bit of science, we can help you beat the summer heat in the most economical way possible.