In the middle of a sweltering summer you can bet that pretty much everyone has their air conditioners running as cold as possible.
However, according to Consumer Reports, most of us are probably running our air conditioners at the wrong temperature, which wastes energy and causes our utility bills to soar.
Energy Star came out with recommendations for setting your air conditioner so you can save money and use energy efficiently, according to Consumer Reports. It is recommended to set your air conditioner at 78 degrees when you’re home and awake.
If you leave your home, Energy Star also recommends setting your unit to 85 degrees. When you’re asleep, set it at 82 degrees. While this may seem a bit higher than many people are used to, the report says that consumers can save an extra three percent on their energy bill for every degree they raise on their unit.
But if you’re already starting to sweat just thinking about this idea, Energy Star says that there is some wiggle room. If you’re convinced this temperature won’t work for you, the program recommends setting it at 78 degrees anyway and then lowering it by one degree at a time until you’ve reached the best possible indoor climate. People who are more “heat-tolerant” can also ratchet up the temperature one degree at a time as well.
Energy Star also noted that people who have window air conditioners, as opposed to central air, may have more difficulty keeping their rooms at the optimal temperature. If you have a window unit in your bedroom, you should turn it on 30 minutes before you go to bed, rather than leave it on.
There are other ways to help beat the heat too, according to Consumer Reports. Even if you set your air conditioner at a higher temperature, you can also use a ceiling fan or box fan to help keep you cool. If you live in a more temperate climate, try opening your windows at night rather than running your air conditioning.
Of course, many people end up feeling too hot at night due to a warm bed and heavy blankets. But there are tricks to keep your bed cool so you don’t sweat all night. Switching to linen bedding, lighter colors, or ditching your top sheet for the season are all ways you can stay comfortable.
People who live in sunny homes should keep their window shades drawn to avoid baking in the summer sunshine while they’re indoors. On particularly hot days, according to Consumer Reports, you should avoid running your dishwasher, oven, washer, and dryer to keep heat from being generated inside the house. Programmable air conditioners and smart thermostats that can be controlled with a smartphone app are also great ways to use your unit only when you need it.
Staying cool in the summer isn’t just about comfort, it’s also about health. There is always a risk of heat stroke when the weather gets oppressively hot. Luckily, if you’re still uncomfortable after setting your unit to the right temperature, there are also lots of gimmicky gadgets for staying cool – like a portable air conditioner that fits under your collar.