When it gets hotter during the summer, it can be challenging to keep your home cool without increasing your energy expenses. Staying cool inside often means leaving your AC on all of the time, driving up your cooling costs. Finding the best summer temperature for your AC will help you stay comfortable without costing you too much money.
Along with finding the perfect summer AC temperature, using different tricks and tools to cool your house will save energy costs and maintain a cool indoor environment. Find the best temperature and strategies for staying cool all summer long below.
Why 78 Degrees Is the Best Temperature in the Summer
Your comfortable indoor temperature might change depending on clothing, outdoor temperature, activity or preferences. Everyone is different and will have a favorite coolness and warmth setting for their home. While every homeowner has their comfort temperature, Energy Star recommends setting thermostats to 78 degrees Fahrenheit in the summer when you’re home.
Many people think 72 degrees is a suitable temperature for summer air conditioning, but it’s actually too low to help you save money. For your home, 78 degrees is the best temperature in the summer since it’s cool enough that you aren’t overheating but close enough to hotter outdoor temperatures that your AC doesn’t have to work as hard to maintain it. The closer the indoor temperature is to outdoor conditions, the lower your energy bill.
What Is the Best Temperature for Sleeping?
For nighttime, you want the temperature to be lower. The National Sleep Foundation recommends setting your AC between 60 and 67 degrees to get the best sleep. Your body cools down as you fall asleep, so sleeping in a cool room helps you get to sleep better. Since the temperature cools down at night, you can lower your AC without increasing your energy bill too much — the system won’t have to use as much energy to achieve the cooler temperature, and you’ll sleep better when you aren’t hot.
If you can sleep with the AC set higher at night, leave the temperature above 70. Use fans, open windows, thin pajamas and light sheets to help you stay cool while you’re sleeping. Summer nights are much cooler than days, so take advantage and let night air flow through your house with open windows for a natural alternative to using the AC.
What Is the Best Temperature for Babies?
Neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) standards keep newborn rooms between 72 and 78 degrees to regulate infant temperatures. Since babies aren’t as good at regulating their body temperatures, you’ll want to keep their rooms at a comfortably warm level.
For babies and toddlers, 65 to 70 degrees is a good level to keep their rooms at. If you are unsure of exactly what temperature to set, aim for something slightly warmer and ensure it’s a level you would be comfortable wearing a T-shirt in.
What Is the Best Temperature for Older Adults?
Older adults should set their homes to at least 70 degrees to keep their bodies regulated in summer. As we get older, we become more sensitive to cold and heat. Older adults need to stay at a comfortable temperature to prevent overheating or hypothermia. To save energy costs, close doors and vents in rooms you don’t use so your AC focuses on rooms you’ll be in. Stay hydrated and cover windows to keep the house cool.
What Is the Best Temperature for Pets and Plants?
We aren’t the only living things in our homes — our pets and plants need to stay happy and healthy, too. Whether you have animals or greenery inside, set your house climate to something that suits them.
For dogs and cats, temperatures from 68 to 75 degrees during the day work well. Animals with longer hair might not handle heat as well as short-haired pets, so lower the AC if you have especially furry friends. If you have spiders, snakes, lizards, birds, rodents or some other kind of pet, they might have more specific climate needs. Do some research and talk to pet store employees to find out the best temperature for your pet.
If you have houseplants, you’ll need to keep them in the best growing conditions. Many houseplants, while highly adaptable, are tropical. Many plants can tolerate 58- to 86-degree environments, but keeping them in rooms 70 to 80 degrees is best for their health. At night, you can lower the temperature to 65-70 degrees. Use pebble trays with water for a cost-effective humidity-producer for your plants.
What Is the Best Temperature for Your Belongings?
While our first thought when cooling our house is our family members, our belongings can become damaged if they get too hot. If you have significant family photographs, documents and prints, the National Archives recommends storing them in cool places below 75 degrees. This helps protect them from chemical decay and fading.
For your electronics, try to prevent them from overheating. Components can suffer if exposed to more extreme temperatures, so keep them in moderate conditions. Laptops are built to function between 50 and 95 degrees, but room temperature — around 68-74 degrees — is best for keeping them in working order.
Most belongings can handle the same indoor temperatures you can, so don’t worry too much about your belongings during the summer. If you think it’s getting too hot in your house for your belongings, move them to a cool, dark space for protection.
Tips for Staying Cool During the Summer
While 78 degrees is the best temperature for your AC in summer, it can be on the warmer side for many people. If your house feels too hot, you could end up adjusting the AC again, driving up your energy bill. To help keep your home comfortable, try some of these helpful tips.
Fans and ventilation are an excellent way to keep cool during hot periods. Use small electric fans to blow air onto you and stay refreshed in summer. For an extra cooling breeze, place a bowl of ice in front of the fan. As the ice melts, the cool water vapor blows onto you with the help of the fan.
Remember that fans cool people and not rooms — small fans are great for keeping the heat off you but won’t cool down an entire space. Always turn fans off when you aren’t in the room — this can help save you money on your electric bill.
To help with humidity, use bathroom fans. Too much moisture can make a room feel even hotter than it is, so turn off any humidifiers while inside. While you shower, put the bathroom fans on to remove that excess humidity. Consider buying dehumidifiers if your home’s humidity is too high. Dehumidifiers help remove the moisture from a space, making it feel cooler, so you don’t need to lower your temperature.
Change the Ceiling Fan Direction
Along with the smaller box, desk or oscillating fans, ceiling fans are perfect for getting a gentle breeze. They work great and send out lots of air so you don’t feel the summer heat. In summer, always make sure fans are spinning counterclockwise. This direction pushes the cool air down, blowing it onto you instead of pulling it up. Ceiling fans will help you feel cooler without using the AC unit.
Increase the Temperature While You’re Away
Set your thermostat higher when you’re not home for higher energy savings. Setting the thermostat 7-10 degrees higher than its usual setting for eight hours a day can save you up to 10% on your yearly cooling bill. By not having your house constantly cooling when you aren’t there, your AC system will use less energy, work less hard and last longer.
If you can’t set your thermostat that high for eight hours every day, any time spent with the system set higher will still help save you money. A few hours every day at a higher setting will reduce the work your AC system is doing and lower the amount you’ll have to spend on cooling costs. Try turning the AC off at night when it’s cooler if possible and use fans or open windows to keep you from overheating.
Close Shades and Weatherstrip Doors
Closing shades or using good curtains to cover the windows during the day keeps the heat out and the cool in. Sunlight and warmth come through uncovered windows during the day, heating your home and causing your AC to kick on more frequently. Blocking the sunlight with closed shades or thick curtains will prevent most of the heat from sneaking indoors during the day.
Weatherstripping doors and windows is a great way to insulate your house against heat and cold. Small gaps and cracks between door and window frames allow air to travel in and out of your house. Larger holes and leaks will let the cool air inside escape, making your AC work harder and heating up your home. Put quality weatherstripping on your doors and windows to create an insulated barrier, trapping the cool air indoors and keeping your house cool.
Avoid Using Heat-Generating Appliances
Appliances like ovens, stoves and dryers can raise indoor temperatures. Try to use them after 8 p.m. to avoid heating the house. If you have to use them during the day, try to run them only once to reduce the heat entering your home. While these appliances don’t always raise temperatures a lot, any excess heat sitting in your home will cause the AC to work harder, increasing energy costs.
Open Windows at Night
Opening your windows at night is a great, cost-effective way to cool your house down. Cooler night air and breezes can flow through the house, lowering the temperature and saving your AC unit from having to do all the work. Turn your AC off at night and let the nighttime air blow inside, relieving you from the day’s heat. Just make sure your unit can handle frequent turning on and off — repeatedly switching a unit on may wear it out, so consider getting a variable-speed unit to avoid this issue.
While opening windows in the evening and at night is an excellent way to stay cool, keep your windows closed during the day. Open windows will let the heat and warmth of summer travel inside while the cool AC air gets sucked out. Even if there’s a gentle daytime breeze, it won’t be enough to keep the house cool without making your AC system work harder. Keep windows closed and covered during the day and open them at night for the best, least expensive cooling.
Get Seasonal AC Maintenance
You rely on your AC system to keep you cool during hot summers, and the last thing you want is an unexpected issue or outage. Forgetting seasonal AC maintenance is a common air conditioning mistake that can cost you a lot.
Your AC constantly runs during the summer, so it needs routine maintenance to work correctly. A damaged or unmaintained unit can run less efficiently, working harder to cool the home and costing you more money on your cooling bills. The more you put off maintenance, the more likely you will need a more extensive, more expensive repair down the road.
AC maintenance will check for issues, perform tune-ups and catch concerns before they turn into problems. Get your AC system checked at least once a year before the summer starts to keep your unit running efficiently for the whole summer.
Seasonal maintenance will help prevent problems that cause your AC to go out, which would leave you stuck without a cool house in the middle of summer. Look into local companies’ maintenance programs — they’re often low-cost and easy to get. Some AC systems will even have seasonal check-ups included in their warranties for easy servicing.
Get a Programmable Thermostat
Programmable thermostats are a convenient way to help reduce energy costs. Installing a programmable thermostat allows you to set a schedule, setting different temperatures at different times. With a programmable unit, you don’t have to remember to change the thermostat when you leave or come back home. The system will do it automatically based on the schedule you’ve set for each day.
Setting a schedule and letting the house stay warmer will help cut energy costs at the push of a button. You can set different schedules for specific days, allowing you to keep the house cool all weekend when you’re home and letting the house warm up during the day while you’re at work. Look at installing energy-efficient thermostats or AC systems and potentially receiving energy rebates, saving even more.
Using intelligent strategies when cooling your home will help you increase your energy efficiency and save you money during the summer. Energy-conscious systems might let you qualify for energy rebates, saving you even more on your energy bills, and programmable thermostats allow easy control over your AC system for lower cooling costs. Maximize your home’s temperature system affordably with quality air conditioning products.