Should You Turn Your AC System Off When Leaving Your Home?

thermostatAt some point in time, most homeowners wonder if they should turn their AC unit off when leaving their house. Or, turn the thermostat up to a higher temperature, or leave it at the same temperature all the time.

What do you do, for example, when you leave your home to go to work each morning? Turn it off, turn it up, or leave it alone?

Suppose you have pets inside your home, and the temperature is supposed to get in the upper 90’s that day? What should you do? What do you do?

The answer is different for each individual circumstance.  If there are no inside pets to account for, the answer is…turning your AC system off while you are away for extended periods of time will save you a good bit of money on your energy bills. Accordingly, there will be no particular effect on the contents of your home.

Won’t my house get too hot in the middle of summer? The answer is it will get several degrees warmer than usual. However, most homes are insulated well enough so that a good portion of cool, captured air will remain in your home while you are gone. If the daytime temperature is going to reach into the mid 90’s, the inside of your home will not get as hot as the temperature is outside. The temperature inside your home will most likely get into the low to mid 80’s. This temperature is certainly uncomfortable for most people to live in, but not terribly hot for an empty house.

You might be thinking your refrigerator and/ or freezer will have to work that much harder to keep its contents cool. Maybe, but only minimally so. Both of these appliances are very well insulated and might run an extra few minutes per day. Compared to the energy being used by your AC unit while you’re not at home, the energy consumption of a refrigerator or freezer is a fraction of the energy your AC unit uses.

Won’t My AC Unit Be Overworked?

Your AC unit is built to work best when it’s working continually at full tilt. It is actually better for your unit to run at full blast, cooling your home down quickly, than it is for it to run intermittently all day, only working in short spurts at a time.

Most home’s AC units will cool down the inside of a home in just a few minutes. Turning your AC unit off during the day will cause you to come home to a warmer house, but usually the difference is only a few degrees. It might take an extra ten minutes to cool down your home from the warmer temperature, however, your AC unit will only be running for an extra 10 minutes compared to having been operating all day. Eight hours or so of continuous running compared to an extra ten minutes? Yeah, turning it off during the day will save you money on your energy bill.

What if you have pets inside your home during the day? This is a judgement call by each individual pet owner based on the type of pet you have, and the type of home you have. Maybe you have a basement that normally stays cooler than the rest of the house. Maybe your pet can stay in the basement during the day (always with plenty of food and water).

What is the best solution?

What’s the best solution? Experimentation. Try turning your AC unit off when you leave your house on your way to work. Try it for a day or so and see if there is a significant difference in your home’s inside temperature when you get back home. It IS going to be warmer than usual. However, time how long it takes for your AC unit to make it comfortable again. Chances are that after about five minutes, you won’t even notice the difference. You will have kept your AC unit from running all day, keeping your home cool when no one is there.

If you have questions about your home’s comfort system, give Bunn’s & Bennett Heating and Air Conditioning a call. You can also email us at [email protected]. We’ve been serving Huntsville and the Tennessee Valley as a licensed and insured HVAC dealer for more than 30 years.

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