There is no need to heat or cool your home when it's empty. It just wastes energy, costs money and causes more wear and tear to your heating and cooling system.
Here's what you should do, according to the U.S. Department of Energy: When you leave home for at least 8 hours in the summer, set your thermostat 5 degrees to 8 degrees higher than your preferred temperature. (Set it lower in the winter.) When you return home, set the thermostat back to your preferred temperature.
Say you have your thermostat set at 75 degrees and it's 90 degrees outside. Heat enters your home to replace the cool air inside. When the inside temperature rises higher than 75 degrees, your air conditioner begins running to remove the extra heat and cool the house back down to 75 degrees. The process continues over and over.
Of course, the smaller the difference between the indoor and outdoor temperatures, the less your air conditioner will have to operate -- and the lower your energy bill will be.
If you raise the thermostat just 5 degrees higher than the temperature you prefer, your air conditioner will have to run less to keep the interior cool.
So, you come home from working 8 hours and your house is hot and stuffy now. You had the thermostat set at 80 degrees, so now your room temperature is 80 degrees. Just reset your thermostat to the 75 degrees you prefer and the air conditioner will work full blast to cool the house back down.
Even though your cooling unit will have to run for a while to get to the temperature you prefer, it still saves more energy -- and money -- than running it constantly.
If you have a programmable thermostat, even better. Set it to begin cooling 30 minutes or so before you usually get home and it will be at a more comfortable temperature when you come in.
The time it takes to cool your house down 5 degrees depends on a lot of variables including the size and age of your HVAC, the home's age and insulation, and if your system has been cleaned and serviced regularly.
Tip: If you are too hot during the time your home is cooling down, turn on a ceiling fan or a portable oscillating fan. It will circulate the air and the breeze it generates will make your skin feel cooler.
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