Girl in bedroom with fan blowing on her.

What Temperature Should I Set My Air Conditioner To In The Summer?

Sidney Richardson5 minute read
August 17, 2021

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, which means we receive a commission if you click a link and purchase something that we have recommended. Please check out our disclosure policy for more details.

When temperatures heat up in summer, many homeowners face a dilemma – should you crank up the air conditioning or sweat it out to save on cooling costs? It can be hard to determine what temperature will be comfortable for your household while also not causing your energy bill to skyrocket.

To help solve your home cooling troubles, read our guide to finding a temperature that works for your household and our tips and tricks for staying cool without running up the electricity bill.

What Is The Average House Temperature In The Summer?

Depending on where you live in the U.S., summer temperatures might differ wildly. Near the West Coast, it’s common to see temperatures rise into the triple digits occasionally for 3 months out of the year, whereas if you live on the upper East Coast, you may not see many days above 90 degrees. This combined with the fact that everyone has their own temperature preferences means that the typical thermostat setting will be different depending on where a house is and who lives in it.

There are, however, home temperatures considered to be more “ideal” if you’re looking to save money and be more energy efficient, which we’ll discuss next.

So, What Should You Set Your Thermostat To?

According to the Department of Energy (DOE), the best temperature to set your thermostat to in the summer months is 78 degrees Fahrenheit (26 degrees Celsius). The DOE recommends setting the temperature in your home as high as you comfortably can in summer, because the smaller the difference between your home and the outside temperature, the lower your cooling costs will be.

You can lower your heating and cooling costs by up to 10% a year by upping the temperature on your thermostat by 7 – 10 degrees in summer for 8 hours a day, according to the DOE.

 

Home Comfort

While the DOE recommends setting the temperature in your home to 78 degrees to save on electricity bills, some may find that to be too hot for their preference. Being energy-efficient and saving on bills is great, but it’s important that you and your family are comfortable during the summer months, too.

To find a temperature that saves money and works for your personal comfort level, set your thermostat to a temperature that’s cool enough for you and gradually increase it a degree at a time to see if you can notice a difference. Each degree warmer your home is, the more money you’ll save.

 

Away Efficiency  

One way to save money without sacrificing cool air is to increase the temperature in your home while you’re away. By increasing the temperature 7 – 10 degrees (up to 88 degrees) when you’re not home, you can save on cooling costs without having to deal with the resulting heat.

If you have a programmable thermostat, you can even make sure your house resumes cooling and returns to a comfortable temperature before you return home.

 

Let a pro do it for you.

Find a top-rated pro to help on HomeAdvisor.

What Happens If Your House Gets Too Hot In The Summer Months?

The heat of summer isn’t just frustrating when it comes to the cost of keeping your home cool – if you live in a place that gets very hot and humid in summer, the warm weather can damage your house as well.

Let’s take a look at a few things you should keep an eye on in summer in addition to the temperature on your thermostat.

 

Foundation

Extreme heat can cause foundation damage. Hot, dry weather – particularly in places where temperatures can heat up to 90 – 100 degrees – causes the soil around your home’s foundation to shrink and move, which can lead to damage.

Keeping the ground near your home moist during periods of extreme heat can help remedy this and prevent foundation cracks. A sprinkler system can be a fairly cost-effective way to do this.

 

Roof

An overheated home, particularly in areas that get humid during the summer months, can cause roof damage. Buildup of excess heat and humidity in your attic or beneath your roof can cause leaks, structural damage and deterioration of shingles. Making sure your attic is properly ventilated can help prevent issues from arising when summer rolls around.

 

Hardwood Floors

Humid areas of the country can also be unkind to hardwood floors in the summer. Excess heat and moisture can warp your floors, causing discoloration and uneven surfaces. Similar to the method used to prevent roof damage, proper ventilation and the use of dehumidifiers can make sure the heat and humidity aren’t ruining your floors.

 

Pipes

Increased water usage during summer can cause damage to your home’s pipes. If you’re using extra water during summer for hoses, sprinklers, swimming pools or anything else that utilizes water during the warmer months, keep an eye on your pipes for leaks.

Extremely dry weather can cause pipe issues as well. Overly dry conditions caused by extreme weather can cause pipes to crack, rupture and disconnect – so it’s a good idea to check up on pipes regularly in summer, whether it’s humid or arid where you live.

Tips And Tricks To Stay Cool And Keep The Electric Bill Down

If you want to lower your electricity bill in the summer but keeping your home at 78 degrees seems unbearable, don’t worry. There are ways to keep your home cool without spending money to constantly use your AC unit.

Here are a few of our tips and tricks.

 

Install Ceiling Fans

Ceiling fans are cheaper to operate than air conditioning and can work wonders improving air flow and cooling your home. Using fans alongside AC might also make setting a higher temperature on your thermostat more bearable by circulating cooler air.

 

Buy Energy Efficient Air Conditioning 

Make sure that the air conditioning unit you’re using is energy efficient. Units (and other appliances) that are Energy Star certified are usually around 15% or more efficient than competing units. A more efficient air conditioner will cool your home more cheaply than a less efficient or older unit.

 

Limit Use Of Heat Generating Appliances

Heat generating appliances such as ovens and stovetops can add unwanted heat to your home, which will cause your air conditioner to work harder. When cooking in summer, try to cook outside when possible or use a slow cooker.

 

Open Windows

Opening windows at night to let in the cooler air can help increase energy efficiency because it reduces the amount of time you’ll need to run your air conditioner. This may not work as well in humid places that don’t cool down drastically at night.

 

Close Shades And Curtains

A change as small as keeping shades and curtains closed can make a huge difference in the temperature of your home. According to the DOE, some blinds can reduce heat gain by up to 45%. This doesn’t mean you have to live in darkness with all your windows covered, however. There are some blinds and curtains that let in light while also blocking heat.

 

Change HVAC Air Filters

It’s important to change your heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) filters when needed to make sure your home is always properly ventilated and your heating and cooling systems are working at optimal capacity. The frequency with which you’ll need to change your filters will vary based on the manufacturer, but generally you’ll want to switch them out every 90 days at least.

The Bottom Line: Find The Best AC Temperature In The Summer For Your Comfort Level

In summer, it’s possible to keep your home cool while saving on your electricity bill if you’re strategic with your air conditioning. There are plenty of methods you can use to cut down on your AC usage during the warmer months without having to suffer in the heat.

For more tips and tricks, check out our guide to making your home more energy efficient. 

Let a pro help.

Connect with a pro and get a home energy audit.

Apply For A Mortgage Online

Sidney Richardson

Sidney Richardson is an intern writer covering homeownership, mortgage and lifestyle topics. She is a senior at Oakland University pursuing a degree in journalism and advertising.