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.