Here’s Why You Should Turn Your AC on First Thing in the AM

Kristi Pahr
Written by Kristi Pahr
Updated July 9, 2015
Woman in white bathrobe sitting on bed
Photo: Mariia Korneeva / Adobe Stock

Highlights

  • Maintain a constant temperature so your AC runs more efficiently 

  • Turning on your AC in the morning saves money and reduces wear and tear on your unit

  • Service your air conditioner regularly to maintain top performance

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When the 3 P.M. sun shines directly into your living room, you may be tempted to blast your AC for some relief. However, doing so would only cause you more torment. Running the air conditioner inconsistently will skyrocket your bills, but turning it on first thing in the morning? Yes, that's the sweet spot.

The Best Time To Run Your Air Conditioner

Your house is at its coolest in the mornings. Outdoor temperatures drop overnight and the summer sun isn’t blazing down. Setting your AC to run in the mornings is the best way to maintain a comfortable indoor temperature and save money on cooling costs because the unit doesn’t have to work as hard.

Turning off the AC during a heatwave can quickly introduce a lot of heat and humidity into your home. After even just a couple of hours, your AC will have to work hard to lower the temperature back to a comfortable level. (Cooling home back down from 82 degrees is a lot harder than from 78 degrees.) Instead, set your thermostat to a desired temperature based on the time of day. With this “setback” method, you want to keep your setback temperature and comfort temperature within 5 degrees of each other.

How to Help Your AC Work Even Better All Summer Long

Using the AC at the correct time isn’t the only way to save on cooling costs. There are a few other ways you maximize your comfort while minimizing your electricity bill.

Invest in a Programmable Thermostat

Digital thermostat mounted on the wall by the stairs
Photo: Christian Delbert / Adobe Stock

Programmable thermostats take the guesswork out of running your AC and help adhere to the “setback” method. Set one temperature for when you’re home and another for when you’re away and your home will be comfortable all summer long. Also, smart thermostats are great for energy savings, because you aren’t cranking up the air conditioner when you get home on a record hot day or constantly adjusting your A/C unit because you can’t get the temperature just right.

Get an Energy Audit 

Energy audits pinpoint leaks and weak points in your home’s ability to maintain a constant temperature. An audit will help find leaks in windows and doors that can be sealed with weatherstripping to ensure your cool air stays inside.

Plant Trees or Shrubs to Provide Shade

Planting trees or shrubs on the east and west sides of your home to help block morning and afternoon sun. Incorporate a variety of heights to account for the differing angles of the rising and setting sun. Choose deciduous trees so winter foliage won't block the sun’s heat during colder months.

Have Your Air Conditioner Serviced Regularly

Air conditioners are workhorses during the summer months and the last thing you want is to have your AC stop working in the middle of a heatwave. Having your unit serviced every year, in early spring prior to turning it on for the summer, will ensure it works at peak efficiency. An HVAC technician will check coolant levels and pressure, inspect electrical connections, clean drains and lines, and clean the evaporator coil. If necessary, they’ll also suggest a plan to repair your unit.

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