What’s the Best Way to Program My Thermostat While I’m Away?
If you’ve ever walked outside in North Florida during the steamy summer months and immediately broken into a soggy sweat, you know it not only gets hot, it also gets very humid. In the not so distant past, it seemed the quickest way to cool down was to crank the A/C as low as it would go when you got home from work – and just let it run. But, what about when you’re away? Luckily science and technology have made great strides and today’s A/C units are much smarter and more efficient than ever.
THERE ARE TWO FORMS OF HEAT?
One of the main advancements of today’s systems is the ability to detect, correct and strike a perfect balance between “sensible heat” and “latent heat” – otherwise known as temperature (sensible) and humidity (latent). Ever notice how hot dry air is a bit more comfortable than hot humid air? That’s because moisture holds energy as latent heat, which makes it feel hotter. Humans need just the right balance of temperature and humidity for optimum comfort –which today’s A/C systems are well equipped to provide. But we still have to do our part to ensure they operate as effectively and efficiently as possible.
THERMOSTAT UP OR OFF?
One important facet of striking this balance is setting your A/C properly when you’re away from home. Should you leave it the same, so it maintains a constant temperature and humidity and doesn’t have to work hard to re-cool when you get home? Or should you turn it up, to keep the system from running while you’re away – no need to cool an empty house. Actually, the answer is somewhere in between – and depends on how long you plan to be away. If you will be gone for four hours or less, it probably won’t make much difference, and your savings may be lost when you re-cool your home upon returning. If it’s for more than four hours per day, or you go away on vacation, this is where the savings can add up.
WHERE SHOULD I SET MY THERMOSTAT?
SUMMER: During normal weekday activity, when everyone is away at work or school, set the temperature up four degrees above normal. So, if you usually keep it at 78 degrees, push it up to 82 while you’re away. The normal recovery rate is about three to five degrees per hour. Much higher than that can cost extra when cooling the home back down. And considering the high humidity in our area, it could allow mildew to grow indoors. Use the same principle when you go away for summer vacation.
WINTER: The same rules apply in reverse during winter. Roll your thermostat back four degrees from your normal home temperature when you leave for more than four hours or go on vacation. Again, going much lower will require your system to work extra hard to recover when you return. The only exception is if you have a gas furnace, you can get away with setting it six to eight degrees lower, since it requires less energy to heat your home.
REPLACE THAT THERMOSTAT
All this seems like great advice – but how will you remember to keep up with it every day? The good news is, you won’t have to!
Today’s thermostats allow you to set a pre-determined on/off schedule for every day of the week, and to control your home’s HVAC system remotely from your smart phone or other device using WiFi. Talk with an HVAC professional about installing a programmable or WiFi thermostat in your home or office.