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Turning Off AC When Not Home: A Good or Bad Idea?

An air conditioner ensures that you enjoy cool temperatures during the hottest months of the year. In case an unexpected issue with your ac occurs, you should contact an experienced team of technicians, like the pros at Anderson Air.
While turning on your ac system for the whole day when you are home ensures that all the air you breathe in is not only fresh but clean. It also allows you to relax in your home in cool comfy temperatures. But this is another story when you are away at work during weekdays and only return home at the end of the day. Leaving your ac on when no one is using it is a waste of money. This is because the ac continues using electricity to cool your house to the desired temperature on the thermostat. And you end up paying more energy bills than you should. Should I turn off ac when not home? Let’s discuss in detail whether or not it’s a good practice to turn off your ac when not at home.

How the AC Works In Both Scenarios

Scenario #1: Leaving ac on when not home
If you leave your ac on when you leave home, it will stay on for the whole day. But this doesn’t mean that it will run consistently. Your ac will function according to its normal cooling cycles. It will kick on and off at regular intervals to maintain your thermostat’s cool temperature.
The ac will undergo its cooling cycle when your indoor temperature rises. Once it cools the temperature, it will rest between cycles, turning off until the thermostat reads that the temperature has increased. And in answer, the ac will kick on again. As you can see, the ac won’t be consuming power actively throughout the day as you might think.

Scenario #2: Turning off ac when not home
Suppose you turn off your ac the whole day when not home. It means that your ac will not consume any power during this time. But once you return home and turn it on in the evening or night, your ac will have to run steadily for a few hours instead of turning on and off in regular intervals. This is because it has to cool all the hot air that has built up throughout the day before it achieves your desired set (cool) comfortable temperature.

But does this mean that it will use more energy and power to cool your air at once?

Answer: No. The myth about an ac having to work harder to cool your home back down to your set temperature at the end of the day is not true. An ac system is made to run at the same speed at all temperature levels. The only difference is that if it is off when you are away, it will have to run a little longer than usual to achieve your desired temperature.

So, What Scenario Saves Money?

Scenario #2, turning off ac when not home.
Even though your ac runs longer when you are back, it still runs for a shorter time than an ac that runs for the whole day. Ac is running for less time converts into less energy use and more energy savings. So, to answer the question — “should I turn off ac when not home?” — yes, you should.

When Is Turning Off AC When Not Home A Bad Idea?

Should I turn off the central ac when not home?
Some states charge higher rates for electricity usage during peak hours (usually between 5 pm and 11 pm). If you live in such areas, it will definitely cost you more to cool your home after work hours than during the day. But for accuracy, check your area or power company’s rates to decide on what scenario will save more on cooling bills.

Is Turning Off Your AC When Not At Home Good For Your AC System?

Should I turn off my ac when I’m not home?
Yes, you should. It is a great idea for your system. When you turn your ac off during the day, it means that it runs for a shorter time duration. And this means that your system will suffer less wear-and-tear. On the other hand, leaving your ac unit on the whole day increases the likelihood of it breaking down. This is because the consistent or regular on and off cooling cycles increase opposing motion between its active and inactive periods. And this puts the small parts inside the ac in frequent alternating motions that wear them out eventually, leading to short cycling. On the other hand, running your ac consistently in the evening prevents the occurrence of short cycling.

When Is Turning Off Your AC When Not Home Is A Very Bad Idea?

So, if turning off ac increases its lifespan and saves on energy bills, why is it a bad idea?
No one wants to come home to a stuffy and hot environment.
Suppose you reside in states that have high summer temperatures. In that case, turning off your ac during the day will destroy your home experience. By the time you return home after work, you will enter a baking house. And turning on your ac will not immediately save the situation. It will take your ac about 3-5 hours to cool your home, by which time you will already be in bed. Aside from the uncomfortable high temperatures, your ac being off throughout the day during hot summers leads to humidity buildup in your home. Humidity destroys wooden surfaces and electric appliances and leads to mildew and mold growth.

Conclusion: Should I Turn Off Ac When Not Home?

Best solution: Save money without compromising comfort.
Leave your ac on but at a higher temperature. Before you leave home, turn your thermostat up to about 75-80 degrees. Doing so will make ac run for lesser periods of time, saving you money. At the same time, it will ensure that your house isn’t unbearably hot. You can turn down the thermostat to your desired temperature when you return home. Using a smart thermostat will automate your cooling needs.

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