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HVAC technician weighs in on debate over whether to turn off AC when on vacation: 'Will actually save you money'

"Makes the air conditioner last longer!"

"Makes the air conditioner last longer!"

Photo Credit: TikTok

There's nothing like a hot summer to get your blood boiling. A debate about how to set your thermostat will do the trick too, though.

The scoop

Last summer, rainforestplumbingandac (@rainforestplumbingandac) sparked an intense discussion on TikTok with a recommendation about finding your air conditioning sweet spot.

@rainforestplumbingandac Replying to @Sheatta Buffet Finding your AC sweet spot while on vacation! 🌴 • • • #coolcomfort #acsettings #airconditioner #airconditioner #rainforest #thermostat #rainforestplumbingandair #temperature #tips #hvac #vacation #settings #summer #heat ♬ original sound - rainforestplumbingandair

The Phoenix-based expert said that turning the AC up while you're at work can save money, but that you give it right back by asking the unit to cool your home when you return.

He contrasted that with a vacation of multiple days or weeks.

"Setting your thermostat at a higher temperature will actually save you money," he said. "The closer the interior temperature is to the outdoor temperature, the less your air conditioner is going to have to run. One thing you want to avoid is making the temperature of your home too high."

Turning off your AC can not only increase the temperature in your home but also the humidity. The creator said this can affect drywall and food in your pantry or fridge.

He recommended setting your thermostat 4 to 5 degrees higher than normal during a vacation.

"What you want to avoid is every day changing the temperature so that your air conditioner is always having to cool your home several degrees down," he added.

How it's working

Last summer was the hottest on record — with temperatures not experienced in millennia — and there's no relief in sight for Americans and others worldwide this summer, so air conditioning is a hot topic.

But rising global temperatures have made AC top priority for a while now: 2.4 billion people were on the cusp of buying an air conditioner in 2022, according to a report by Sustainable Energy for All, via Bloomberg.

Unfortunately, that will only increase the polluting gases in our atmosphere, which are the source of human-caused warming — exacerbating a vicious cycle.

We need sustainable cooling solutions and fast.

Heat pumps, which heat and cool homes by moving hot air, are becoming more popular, in part because they reduce electricity usage by up to 50%. Smart devices can also help, as can building design.

Other tricks include turning off appliances and lights, closing curtains, and making sure your ceiling fans rotate counterclockwise. Upgrading insulation can go a long way, too.

What people are saying

Every person's situation, home, and local climate is different, so each commenter had a unique take. 

"Yup," one wrote. "Makes the air conditioner last longer!"

Another said: "Try living somewhere with time of use rates … Definitely not keeping my AC running during peak-use rates."

"I have a nest thermostat and when I set it at eco when I work then come home and set it a lot lower my bill is drastically smaller," someone else relayed.

A fourth TikToker said: "Our city recommends 78 during the summer, and I simply can't live in that. Freeze and be broke I shall."

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