You may have wondered as you’re leaving for work in the morning, should I shut off the air conditioner? Sure, it’s nice to come home to a cool house. But keeping the house like a refrigerator all day while it’s standing empty may not be the best thing for the long-term health of the AC system– or the short-term health of your wallet.

Turn off Thermostat?

Air conditioning an empty home

As with many questions, the answer is, It depends.  How long will you be away– for a few hours while you’re shopping, or for two weeks’ empty housevacation? What temperature do you keep your house at?

Regulating the temperature

The issue of temperature settings is crucial. You can buy a programmable thermostat for about $80 and save hundreds on your AC bill each summer.

Just set the thermostat to turn off the system before you leave for work, and set it to turn back on a half-hour before you’re due home. Or– if you’d rather keep your home at a minimum cool– set it for 78 while you’re gone, to drop back to 68 just before you arrive home.

Some experts say it’s better to keep the AC running– even if your thermostat is set as high as 85 degrees– while you’re on vacation, to keep the air circulating and protect furnishings.

Leave it running but lessen the strain

No matter what you decide– off or on, there are things you can do to lessen the burden on your AC system.

  • Make sure the windows and doors are closed.
  • Draw the blinds or drapes during the heat of the day.
  • Have your system serviced annually, before the cooling season.
  • Make sure your filters are changed regularly.
  • Find a good a/c contractor to check your refrigerant levels and ductwork.

These simple steps will help keep your system running properly. Then chill out in a nice, cool house this summer– at least while you’re home to enjoy it.