Is Turning the A/C On and Off Bad? Tips for Using an Air Conditioner Effectively

Air conditioners work hard to make us feel cooler, but when should we be willing to turn them off during the summer? Making the decision to turn off the A/C can be scary if you want to escape the heat at home but doing so can help save you money.


If you are trying to determine the best temperature for your air conditioner and whether you should leave your A/C on, you should know the different settings on your system. When setting your thermostat, check to see whether it is set to “ON,” “AUTO,” or “OFF.” When your system is set to “ON,” the system will run nonstop until you change the settings. This can become very expensive if you leave the system running for prolonged periods. Leaving a unit set to “ON” all day can result in the freeze the system’s condenser coils, causing the air conditioner to run less effectively. 

When you set your thermostat to “AUTO,” it will shut off the cooling system when it reaches the set temperature. Leaving a thermostat set to “ON” causes your system to run about 200 hours more a month than setting it to “AUTO.” Additionally, your A/C is less likely to freeze the coils when it gives itself time to disperse the moisture it has collected. Leaving your air conditioner running all day will also shorten the lifespan of your system. So, in addition to the higher energy bills, it will cost you more money in the long run.

First and foremost, if you have pets, you must keep the temperature in your home consistently comfortable. Assuming you don’t have pets, when you leave for work or an extended period out of your home, turning off your air conditioner can save you money and help your system run more efficiently. A/C units run most efficiently when they are operating at full speed. Units are also better able to dehumidify your house when they are running full speed, which it’s more likely to reach when the system is recooling the whole house. Turning your air conditioner off can definitely help lower energy bills and can actually make your home feel cooler.

A programmable thermostat is an easy solution to the question of whether you should continuously turn your A/C on and off. With a programmable thermostat, you can turn your air conditioning off as you leave the house for work. Then before you head home, you can set your thermostat to begin cooling from your phone or a computer. When you arrive home, you will be greeted with a blast of cold air and save money in the process. 

Running More Efficiently

The best temperature for an A/C unit is 78 degrees, which most people generally do a good job leaving the thermostat set to cool their home. If you set your thermostat to a higher temperature when leaving the house when you return, resist the temptation to set the temperature lower. Set it back to 78 degrees. Air conditioners adjust the air at a constant rate, which means setting the temperature to 70 degrees will not help speed up the process of cooling your home. It will only lower the temperature to 70 degrees, raising your energy bills. 

When you are not home, there is no reason to leave your ceiling fans on as they will not help cool your home. Ceiling fans are used to circulate the air that is already present in a room. Fans push the cold air, so it feels like a breeze against your skin, but they do not cool the room itself. Essentially, ceiling fans cool people, not places. When you are home, however, fans are a great way to stay cool and lower your electricity bill. Fans use much less energy than an air conditioner. If you do not feel like your fans are making much of a difference, check which direction they are spinning. During the summer months, you want the fans spinning counter-clockwise as this creates a stronger flow of cool air. 

Sometimes empty rooms will swallow large amounts of cool air that could be utilized elsewhere. You may want to walk through your home and close any A/C vents in rooms that are not being used. Close any closet doors to keep cold air out in the open where you can enjoy the comfort. This will help ensure your air conditioner is operating effectively to cool your home.

If you begin experiencing any issues with your thermostat or believe a new A/C will save you more money, call a professional to make sure you stay comfortable in your home.