Does Turning Your Air Conditioner Off When You're Out Save Money?

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Let's face it: During the summer, air conditioning costs can be astronomical, especially if you live where it gets hot. Everyone is looking for a way to save on energy costs, especially now. But does turning your air conditioner off when you're out save money? Surprisingly, the experts say the answer is no.

The thinking goes if the A/C is off, then it should save money. The reality is the unit will have to work much harder when you turn it back on to cool the house down, which cancels out any savings you may have otherwise enjoyed. We're going to dive into the details of this topic for you in this post, including why it doesn't work, other problems turning off your air conditioning can cause, and valuable ways you can save money on energy costs.

Problems turning the A/C off can cause

Here's what really happens: When you come home and turn the A/C back on, you typically turn the temperature down low to cool the house off quickly. But with the huge difference in outdoor and indoor temperatures, the unit has to strain and work harder than it's capable of to compensate for the difference. In other words, it's going to cost you more money.

Your A/C also controls moisture in the home. When you turn it off, the humidity goes up. This can cause moisture to build up on walls and other surfaces that may be a host for mold growth. High humidity inside can cause doors to swell and plaster to crack. And if all that isn't enough, turning off the air for periods when your house becomes very warm can cause additional problems, such as overworking your refrigerator and heat damage to electronics.

Other more effective ways to save

We're all trying to do everything we can to save on utilities, so here's what you can do instead. When you leave the house for some time, you can raise the temperature by 5 to 10 degrees. One of the best pieces of advice is to purchase a programmable thermostat. You can find a basic Honeywell programmable thermostat at Lowe's for $29.99. If you're interested in using Smart technology in your home, Target has a GE CYNC Smart thermostat. This is one sure way to start seeing savings on your utility bills.

Some other methods to save on energy are making sure doors and windows are closed promptly and ensuring there are no cracks for the air (or heat) to escape. Closing curtains and blinds in the daytime as much as possible also helps. Additionally, keep your A/C unit properly maintained and the air filter clean. These things will go a long way towards saving money and likely extend the life of your unit. So, no matter how hot it gets, you can still stay cool and save on utilities.