Energy-Saving Home and Tech

What Temperature Should I Set a Thermostat to in Summer?

By
Gexa Energy
April 26, 2023
|
5
minutes read
By
Gexa Energy
Publication Date:
November 20, 2023
Last updated:
December 6, 2023

Air conditioning is an essential part of life in Texas, especially during the hot summer months. In fact, the Energy Information Administration (EIA) estimates more than 87% of Texas homes use air conditioning.

However, keeping your home cool does require a significant amount of energy use. The EIA also found Texas and its neighboring states use 26% more electricity than the national average.  

When the temperatures are high, you may be less concerned with energy savings than you are with your personal comfort or safety. That may leave you wondering what temperature to set your thermostat in summer. Is there a middle ground that can help you save energy this summer?  

Here are the recommended thermostat settings for summer and more tips for staying cool without running up your energy bill.  

What’s the Best AC Temperature for Summer?

It’s no secret that the lower your AC temperature setting in the summer, the higher your electricity rates could be. In fact, you can shave 1% off your total household energy use for each degree you turn your air conditioner up during an eight-hour period.

The U.S. Department of Energy has also weighed in on the subject of summer thermostat settings: The ideal temperature is 78 degrees in order to optimize both comfort and energy usage when you are home. When you’re not home, keep your thermostat at 85 degrees, then turn it back down. You can even program most smart thermostats with this schedule for simple temperature control in the summer. (And remember, even if you come home to a warmer-than-desired house, setting the thermostat lower than usual won’t make your house cool down any faster. Instead, run a fan for immediate relief and allow the AC unit to cool the home gradually.) At night, aim for somewhere in the middle—82 degrees is the recommended temperature.

Many people like to keep their AC temperature settings much cooler in the summer—around the low 70s or even the high 60s. While these lower temperatures may be most comfortable, this isn’t where you’ll find the most energy savings. However, there are other ways to reach the perfect thermostat setting for summer without breaking the bank.

Factor In Humidity

Many Texans know that cooling off isn’t just about ideal temperature. You also must control the humidity. During periods of intense humidity, it becomes harder for the body to cool itself. This can contribute to heat-related illness and make you feel hotter even if the temperature isn’t that high.  

According to the EIA, air conditioning accounts for about 17% of home energy expenditures in the mixed-dry and hot-dry areas of Texas—and a staggering 27% in hot-humid areas. That’s because many people deal with humidity by lowering their AC temperature setting even further, but that isn’t necessarily the best plan.  

Air conditioners do remove some moisture from the air along with the heat. But rather than blasting your AC to lower the humidity, you can invest in a dehumidifier that works in conjunction with it. Many air conditioners also have a humidity setting or “dry mode” you can use.  

Seal Up Your Home

Keeping your home at the best AC temperature for summer also means preventing outside air from getting in. The U.S. Energy Department recommends sealing any air leaks around windows, doors, attic hatches, and other places where humid air can seep through.  

For windows, you can use caulking or weather stripping around the edges and add window film for an extra layer of insulation. For doors, add weather stripping around the entire frame. Don’t forget areas where plumbing or ductwork comes into your home, like your dryer duct, as well as chimney flues and recessed lighting.  

Investing in energy-efficient windows is another option. These windows are either double- or triple-paned to increase insulation, with windowpane spacers and gas between the panes, and are one of the best ways to create an energy-efficient home. Whatever option you choose, ensuring your home is sealed means your compressor doesn’t need to work as hard to keep your home at the ideal AC temperature in summer.  

Invest in Alternatives

Increasing ventilation by using fans, especially in kitchens and bathrooms, can also help you feel more comfortable at a higher summer thermostat setting. Many kitchens and bathrooms already have ventilator fans installed, so be sure to turn them on when you’re using the stove or showering to help get rid of hot air. There are also duct and vent booster fans that fit over your existing vents, as well as box fans you can place in windows.

If you want to make a larger investment, you can install ceiling fans or even a whole-house fan, which draws cool air through the doors and windows and pushes it out of a vent in your attic. Then, if the temperature outside is cooler than the temperature inside and the humidity is low, you may not need to worry about your AC temperature settings at all.  

You can also save money with solar energy. Rooftop solar offsets your costs by producing your own electricity and selling any extra back to the grid—so you might even get money back. This allows you to save energy at home all year round, not just in the summer.

Choose the Right AC—and Maintain It  

While it may seem like a bigger AC unit will make your home more comfortable than a smaller one, the U.S. Energy Department found this isn’t always true. An oversized air conditioner will actually cool the home to the thermostat setting for summer without eliminating the humidity. The room may feel clammy, and you’ll be using more energy than you need to.  

An air conditioning professional can help you choose a unit that is energy-efficient and appropriately sized for your space. Purchasing a high-efficiency  ENERGY STAR®-certified unit can save energy by as much as 20-50%. Gexa also offers Energy Saver Plans, which can help you save on your electricity bill. Explore our plans to learn more.  

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Regularly cleaning or replacing your air conditioner’s filters will help it maintain the best AC temperature for summer while also lowering your energy use. During the summer months, you may need to replace your filter—or clean it, if it is a reusable option—every four to six weeks. The more you use your AC unit, the more you’ll need to do this. You’ll also need to pay more attention to your filter if you have pets in your home or live in a dusty area.  

Once a year, you will also want to inspect your air conditioner’s coils and coil fins. The coils can collect dirt that reduces its ability to function properly, while the fins can get bent out of place. You can easily clean the coils and comb the fins back into place or hire a professional to help you.  

While air conditioners are important for safety and comfort, they do have an impact on the environment. The U.S. Energy Department estimates 100 million tons of carbon dioxide are released into the air each year from national air conditioner usage.  

Practicing responsible use and maintenance can help to reduce this pollution—and knowing what temperature to set a thermostat in the summer is only part of the answer. Learn about Gexa Energy and visit our website for more energy-saving tips.

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