DC Mythbusting: Air Conditioning Edition

Photo courtesy of
courtesy of ‘::FiZ::’

Yesterday, I saw a few discussions about the virtue and vice of air conditioning during a heat wave, and a popular myth emerged quickly: It is more energy conscious to shut off your air conditioner when you leave the house than it is to just adjust the thermostat up to 78-80°F.

Something didn’t sound right to me, so I wrote to Pepco’s Andre Francis, their answer man in the public eye, to see if they would shed some light on the myth. Here’s what he said:

“It’s better to raise the temperature on their thermostat to typically between 78 & 80. By doing so, the A/C unit will cycle on and off keeping the temperature in the home at that steady temperature. When customers completely turn off their A/C unit, it makes it work a lot harder to bring the temperature down to a comfortable level once they get home. That in turn causes a higher demand of electricity which equates to higher usage costs.”

So there you have it: bump up your thermostat, don’t just turn off the AC when you leave for work. We’ve asked Andre a few followup questions to go into a little more detail about whether or not apartment size matters, or if you leave for a few days, what you should do. But, for day to day use, I’d say the myth is fairly busted. Set your house thermostat to a bit warmer when you leave and you’ll save some money on the backend.

I live and work in the District of Columbia. I write at We Love DC, a blog I helped start, I work at Technolutionary, a company I helped start, and I’m happy doing both. I enjoy watching baseball, cooking, and gardening. I grow a mean pepper, keep a clean scorebook, and wash the dishes when I’m done. Read Why I Love DC.

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4 thoughts on “DC Mythbusting: Air Conditioning Edition

  1. Or you could be like me and my treehugger roommates, and keep it at 78-80 all the time! With a ceiling fan, it’s cool enough, really.

  2. Pingback: Tweets that mention DC Mythbusting: Air Conditioning Edition » We Love DC -- Topsy.com

  3. This being DC, how do window unit ACs fit into this equation, both in the case where they have some basic thermostat and where they don’t?