Federal program Energy Star did not have Virginians in mind when it made recommendations for in-home air conditioners.
The program recommends to help keep costs down, you might try to skimp on the AC— but that can create squabbles in the family over which temperature setting is more comfortable.
Consumer Reports released setting recommendations, adding that families can save about 3 percent on their utility bill for every degree they raise the set temperature, according to the Department of Energy.
So what is the best setting for your central AC? That depends on whether you care more about keeping cool or keeping your utility bill in check.
Energy Star, a joint federal program run by the DOE and the Environmental Protection Agency, recommends that for optimal cooling and energy efficiency, the coolest you should keep your house is 78° F—and that’s only when you’re at home and awake.
A smart or programmable thermostat makes it easy to match your cooling needs to your schedule, but you can make the adjustments manually if you don’t have one for your central air system. Try the following settings:
• 78° F when you’re home
• 85° F when you’re at work or away
• 82° F when you’re sleeping
If you’re more heat-tolerant, you can experiment with the temperature, raising it 1° F at a time to see how it affects your comfort and your budget; 3 percent savings per degree adds up pretty quickly.
If you aren’t comfortable at 78° F, lower the temperature a degree at a time and let your system reach the new setting before ratcheting it down further.
In general, energy officials say if you have a fan, turn it on. A ceiling fan or box fan causes a wind chill effect that makes you feel cooler at a higher temperature setting, as long as the humidity isn’t too high.
That means investing in fans and turning up the temperatures should be worth the sacrifice and show in savings.