Too hot … too cold … just right. Ever wondered what that “just right,” best thermostat setting for HVAC efficiency really is?
It’s a common question and concern. The answers vary depending on who you ask.
For example, the Department of Energy suggests setting your thermostat to 78 degrees during the summer and 68 during the winter. Energy Star recommends the same 78 degrees in the summer and 70 in the winter.
For some people, that 78 degrees in the summer is just right. Others may think it’s too hot and will set their thermostat lower. Some may think it’s too cold and prefer to set theirs higher.
In actuality, the number on your thermostat isn’t as important as keeping it there consistently
Consistency is the Key to HVAC Efficiency
Think about your favorite beverage in an ice chest. When you place already cold beverages in an ice chest, the ice is more efficient and lasts longer. When your beverages are warm going in, the ice melts faster as it works harder to cool the beverages.
The ice lasts longer when the beverage is already chilled because it’s easier to maintain a consistent temperature than it is to drastically change that temperature one way or the other.
Likewise, your HVAC system — air conditioning in the summer and heater in the winter — works the hardest when it has to overcome extreme differences between the existing temperature and the thermostat setting.
This is why turning your system off and on each day as you leave and return could be the WORST thing you can do for energy efficiency.
Most people running a marathon find it easiest and the most efficient use of their energy to maintain a fairly steady, consistent pace throughout the 26.2 miles. You don’t find many who sprint periodically throughout the race.
When you cycle your air conditioner off and on, it’s like making it run sprints during a marathon. And that’s just not energy efficient.
An Energy Smart Thermostat Strategy for HVAC Efficiency
To determine the best thermostat setting for HVAC efficiency AND your comfort, start at 78 degrees in the summer and then increase or decrease by one degree at a time until you find the temperature that makes you comfortable. Do the same in the winter, starting at 68 degrees.
Realize this: the closer your thermostat setting is to the outside temperature, the less your HVAC unit will run, the less energy you will use, and the lower your energy bill will be.
Consumer Reports estimates that each degree closer to the outside temperature represents about a 3% savings on your energy, and that can add up.
TIP: In the summer, experiment with floor, table, or ceiling fans to create a “wind-chill effect” that can make higher thermostat settings feel more comfortable.
Once you find your “just right” temperature for your optimal comfort, keep your thermostat there. Raise it a few degrees during the day in the summer if nobody is home (lower it in the winter), but no more than five to seven degrees from where you want it to be when you are home.
More than that and the unit will work harder to get your house back to your desired temperature, losing both efficiency and whatever energy savings you might have realized throughout the day while it was at the adjusted setting.
Like Goldilocks, you may need to test a few different thermostat settings until you find your “just right” balance between your budget, your comfort, and your HVAC efficiency.Contact us today if you need additional guidance.
Once you find the number you can best live with, keep it consistent. Remember, a steady pace will win the race.