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Finding the Best AC Temperature Setting During Summer Heat

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best AC temperature setting

Find the Best AC Temperature Setting for Comfort and Savings

Many of us find ourselves constantly fiddling with our air conditioner thermostats, particularly during sweltering summers like this year’s. Finding that perfect balance between comfortable indoor temperatures and manageable energy bills often feels like walking a tightrope. So, what is the best AC temperature setting to beat the heat without overspending on energy bills? This blog post is about uncovering the optimal indoor climate, ensuring comfort and energy efficiency.

Discovering your home’s ideal air conditioner setting is a little more complex than simply choosing an arbitrary number on the thermostat. Various factors play a role, ranging from personal preferences to your local climate. Let’s explore these factors to help you determine the best temperature to set the air conditioner to.

Factors That Influence Your Best AC Temperature Setting

Before diving into specifics, let’s examine some factors influencing your best AC temperature setting. These factors impact how your house reacts to the temperature outside and your cooling preferences.

Outside Temperature

This seems obvious, but the temperature outside heavily dictates how low you need to set your thermostat for comfort. During intense heat waves, you might feel the need to crank down the AC a few degrees more than on milder days.

The smaller the gap between the current indoor and outdoor temperature, the lower your cooling costs. So, if it’s 95°F outside, maybe don’t shoot for a chilly 68°F indoors. Consider raising your thermostat a few degrees higher during peak summer months for optimal temperature and energy savings.

Personal Preferences & Health

Our individual perceptions of comfort differ. What one person finds pleasantly cool might leave another shivering. Furthermore, underlying health conditions can influence temperature sensitivity. For instance, individuals with respiratory issues may find drier, cooler air more comfortable.

Home Insulation & Efficiency

A well-insulated house retains cool air better, allowing you to keep your AC set a touch higher while staying comfortable. Consider improving your home’s insulation and air sealing to reduce energy costs. This insulation factor also ties into your windows—double-paned or energy-efficient windows minimize heat transfer, allowing your AC to work less.

Time of Day

Throughout the day, our internal temperature naturally fluctuates. Many people find slightly warmer temperatures comfortable in the morning compared to the afternoon when the sun is at its peak. This natural variation is something to remember when adjusting your AC setting.

Finding the Right Temperature Balance

Now, to address the question many are wondering: what’s the best AC temperature setting? While personal preferences reign supreme, the Department of Energy (DOE) suggests aiming for 78 degrees Fahrenheit as a balanced starting point when you’re home and awake.

Finding a suitable temperature for your AC involves striking a balance between comfort levels and energy savings. Adjusting your thermostat setting just a few degrees higher than your preferred temperature can make a difference in your monthly energy bills. Experiment with different temperature settings to find your ideal comfort level.

Energy Savings Potential

The DOE emphasizes that each degree you set your thermostat above 72°F could save you up to 3% on your cooling expenses . That might not seem significant initially, but those savings compound throughout a sweltering summer.

Maintaining proper refrigerant levels in your AC unit is crucial for its efficiency. Consider using a tower fan in conjunction with your AC to circulate air more effectively. This can help you feel cooler at a higher temperature setting.

Using Programmable & Smart Thermostats

Programmable thermostats are game changers when seeking your best AC temperature setting. You can schedule your AC to cool down your house right before you get home and automatically bump up the temperature at night, so you’re saving money while sleeping.

Smart thermostats take things even further by using your phone’s location data and AI to adjust the temperature proactively. Some can even be linked with smart home assistants for hands-free control.

Combining Strategies for Optimal Comfort

Getting the best AC temperature setting often requires combining strategies for maximum comfort and energy savings. Implementing these strategies will help reduce heat in your home, so your AC unit doesn’t have to work as hard.

  1. Ceiling Fans: Ceiling fans can create a “wind-chill” effect. They allow you to raise your thermostat a few degrees without sacrificing comfort.
  2. Window Treatments: Keep curtains or blinds drawn during the hottest parts of the day to minimize direct sunlight entering your home.
  3. Evening Cooling: If you live in an area with cooler evenings, consider opening your windows at night for some natural ventilation. This can not only improve indoor air quality, but also reduce the strain on your AC.

By incorporating these small but effective strategies, you can create a noticeably cooler environment without constantly battling with your thermostat.

Striking a Balance for Your AC Usage

You may wonder, “Should I completely turn off my AC when I leave?” It sounds tempting, but consider this: It usually takes much more energy for your AC to cool down your house from a sweltering 85 degrees than from a more moderate 80 degrees.

You see, by bumping the AC up just 7-10 degrees higher while you’re at work, you can enjoy considerable savings. Even better, you don’t risk returning to an unbearably hot home. If you’re on a more extended vacation of a week or more, fully turning off your AC might be worthwhile.

Maintaining a Well-Oiled AC

One of the biggest secrets to getting the best AC temperature setting is making sure your AC is working in top shape. Regular AC maintenance, just like changing your car’s oil, makes a huge difference.

This doesn’t mean you have to be an HVAC expert. Something as simple as changing the air filter regularly goes a long way in boosting efficiency and keeping your AC happy. A dirty air filter blocks air flow. That puts your AC unit at strain, leading to wasted energy and potential breakdowns.

You can increase temperature gradually as the day cools down or when heat-generating appliances are not in use. By making these minor adjustments, you can potentially save on your summer energy bills while maintaining a comfortable indoor environment.

Finding Your Perfect Night Time Temperature

Getting restful sleep when the summer heat’s cranked up high outside requires some strategic planning, particularly when figuring out your best AC temperature setting overnight. Finding the ideal sleeping temperature can significantly impact the quality of your sleep.

Many find that while 78°F is okay during the day, it doesn’t quite cut it for comfortable sleep. For the majority, the best sleeping temperature falls somewhere between 60-67°F . However, each individual’s optimal sleep temperature can vary, with a general rule being a few degrees lower than their preferred daytime setting.

Tricks for Enhancing Your AC for Restful Sleep

Try adjusting the thermostat an hour before you head to bed, allowing enough time for the bedroom to cool down gradually. This will ensure a comfortable temperature by the time you are ready for bed.

Those who have a programmable thermostat can set a lower nighttime temperature. Just remember to factor in outdoor temperatures. Opening a few windows at night to let in cool breezes also helps if your area has mild nighttime temperatures. Using a combination of these strategies will enhance your AC’s performance.


Finding that elusive “best AC temperature setting” isn’t a rigid equation but an evolving experiment. Every home, and every homeowner, has unique circumstances. But, the key takeaway is to find what balances energy efficiency and comfort. Start with the DOE recommendation and work from there to discover what keeps your bills manageable without feeling sweaty and miserable inside. Adjusting your thermostat just a few degrees higher, especially during heat waves, can lead to major savings on your energy expenses over time.

Our homes are evolving ecosystems – sometimes 78°F might feel great. And sometimes, you might crank it down a couple more degrees to stay comfortable during a heat wave. It’s all about staying attuned to your house, knowing the essentials of how your home’s AC works and keeping the system in good shape. And remember, small, consistent adjustments – like using ceiling fans – really add up. By understanding your personal preferences and incorporating various tips and tricks, achieving the best AC temperature setting transforms from a constant struggle to an empowering endeavor without overspending on energy bills.

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