Should you really set your thermostat to 78 in the summer?

Discover the magic number and how it adds up to savings

Summer is here. Along with grilling, vacations, and afternoons by the pool, you’re sure to experience major heat waves. Depending on your location, triple-digit temperatures may be the norm for three or more months out of the year. A rising heat index, partnered with your goal to limit your monthly energy cost, leaves you questioning what temperature to set the thermostat in the summer.

It turns out that the best indoor temperature for your home during the summer months is 78 degrees, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. If that temperature falls outside your comfort level, there are several ways to modify how your home feels without causing your energy bill to spike. Keep in mind, each degree set above 72 can save you up to 3% on your cooling costs.

Increase temperature when away

Naturally, when the heat increases outdoors, your HVAC system works harder to maintain your ideal indoor temperature. While you’re away, however, your set  temperature doesn’t need to be quite so low.

Adjust the thermostat while you’re away to a higher setting. Installing a smart thermostat will make adjusting the indoor temperature even easier. Schedule the setting to increase by seven to 10 degrees while you’re at work or away for the day.

With the ability to control the thermostat from your smartphone, you can easily adjust the temperature to a cooler setting before arriving home. Increasing the temperature when you’re away can help save up to 10% on your energy bill.

Ceiling fan direction in summer

A ceiling fan won’t replace your air conditioner during the summer months, but it can certainly complement it. On most models, there’s a small switch near the bottom or side of the mounting base of the fan. This switch allows you to change the direction of the fan to match the season.

During the summer months, your ceiling fan blades should spin counterclockwise. By spinning in this direction, your fan creates a cool breeze by pushing air down. You’ll find that the room feels up to four degrees cooler and stays consistent throughout the day. Plus, you can increase your air conditioner temperature by two to three degrees thanks to the fan’s cool down.

Seasonal AC maintenance

Just as you prepare your vehicle for a long trip to ensure everything is in optimal working order, the same should be done for your air conditioning. Spring maintenance on your HVAC before the summer heat hits will help ensure the unit is performing properly, refrigerant levels are topped off, and the unit is cooling as efficiently as possible. 

Small things like leaky air ducts, poor insulation or overgrown landscaping around your air conditioner can affect efficiency. An independent Trane Dealer can perform seasonal maintenance on your unit, but the trained professionals can also support you in replacing an aged system.

Invest in energy-efficient air conditioning

Even when you’re setting your thermostat higher, you may not see your electric bill go down if your air conditioner isn’t running efficiently. An HVAC upgrade may be necessary to lower your energy use and keep your home comfortable.

A newer Energy Star® certified system that has a high Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER) and Energy Efficiency Ratio (EER) rating can be 15% more efficient than older, less energy-conscious models. Newer systems can also improve your comfort, since they typically feature 2-stage cooling and a variable-speed fan. This type of air conditioning system will keep you cooler more consistently, even on a lower setting. It also runs longer without the starts and stops that use excess energy and removes twice as much humidity from your air to keep you feeling more chill.

Make your home naturally cooler

In addition to bumping up the thermostat setting during summer months, using ceiling fans, and scheduling AC maintenance, there are simple ways to make your home cooler.

  • Close shades, blinds and curtains to keep the sun out during the day. Blackout shades and curtains work wonders.
  • Open windows and turn off your air conditioner at night to let in cooler air. Then shut the windows and shades in the morning to trap the cool air in your house.
  • Weatherstrip doors and windows to keep cool air in and hot air out.
  • Only use heat-generating appliances like your stove, oven, dryer and hair dryer after 8pm to avoid heating up an already hot house. Appliances can raise the temperature up to 10 degrees!

Best temperature for comfortable home

Saving on your energy bill is important, but you also want to enjoy your space comfortably. If a thermostat at 78 degrees during summer heat isn’t cool enough for you, make small adjustments. Move the temperature one to two degrees higher than normal to see if you can notice a difference. Continue to increase the setting until you reach your comfort limit.

Also, remember that humidity can make you feel hotter. If high humidity is a constant challenge in your home, explore how power dehumidifiers can adjust the moisture in the air even as the seasons change to create a cooler space.

Still curious about how your thermostat and air conditioning system work? Learn more about HVAC basics from the experts at Trane.