These Are the ‘Optimal’ Summer Thermostat Settings
In many parts of the country, it’s been a struggle to stay cool this summer. Our air-conditioned homes are an oasis away from the heat and humidity—but if you want to optimize both your cooling and your energy efficiency, you might need to bump up the temps.
Brace yourself: Here are the settings that Energy Star, a federal program run by the U.S. Department of Energy and the Environmental Protection Agency, recommends for a programmable thermostat (you can also follow these guidelines manually):
• 78° F when you’re home
• 85° F when you’re at work or away
• 82° F when you’re sleeping
As Consumer Reports suggests, you can also use ceiling and box fans, open windows on cooler nights and keep the shades and curtains drawn against the sun to keep temperatures from rising more inside the home.
If you need the AC when you get home, program it to go on before you arrive or, with some thermostats, turn it on with a smartphone app.
If there’s a heat wave, avoid using your washer, dryer, and dishwasher during the heat of the day. Also, make sure you use the exhaust fans in your kitchen when you’re cooking or in the bathroom when you’re taking a shower.
If you live in warmer climates
As Lifehacker’s personal finance writer (and Tampa resident) Lisa Rowan was quick to point out—these temps are probably unrealistic for those in extra-spicy locations.
“They are so warm, and if you live in a humid place and leave your thermo at 85 when you leave the house for more than a minute, you’re gonna get mold,” she told me. “Ask me how I know!”
(She keeps her thermostat at 78 basically always now, along with a dehumidifier.)
This Twitter thread is also full of outraged AC devotees who are now turning their thermostats down to 57 degrees in protest:
Personal comfort will factor in, too. If you like it cold but you’re budget-conscious, the Department of Energy estimates you’ll save about 3 percent on your utility bill for every degree you raise the temperature on your central air. You might try starting at 78 and lowering it gradually, one degree at a time, giving your body time to adjust until you feel comfortable.
So consider these recommendations a mere starting point; you’ll have to find your own personal ‘optimal’ temperature based on your comfort, budget and location.
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