Recommended Temperature for Air Conditioners [Summer/Sleeping/Energy Saving]

best temp for air conditioning

Rising energy costs and temperatures do not go well together. In fact, your air conditioner may draw the majority of energy on your power bill during the summer months, so knowing how to set it up correctly and how to best use the power you have can help you save a lot on your energy bill. The air conditioner temperature is an important factor in taking back control over your energy bills, but so are your habits and different environmental factors. 

Taking them all into consideration at once can be a hassle, and you may not be able to draw the right conclusions. For this reason, let’s consider them one by one, and let’s see how you can keep your air conditioner on all summer long without skyrocketing your energy bill. Simple tricks and tweaks can help you reach the best temperature for both your home and your health without compromising your energy savings

Air Conditioner Temperature Setting

In fact, many homes in the US have a temperature setting that is too low for the most part of the summer. This does not only mismatch the best temperature but overly low-temperature settings during the summer months have the same effect as winter temperature settings that are too high – they result in very high energy bills. Upping the summer temperature setting by a single degree can barely be felt, but it will help you save money and will still be able to combat the heat coming into the house and the heat from heat-generating appliances. 

Although the summer heat can seem to be unbearable in most of the US, it is important to note that many people do not keep their homes at a comfortable temperature. Rather, they love the cool feeling the moment they enter their house. This results in thermostats being sat at a lower temperature than what is needed, increasing your utility costs and decreasing the energy efficiency of your home. 

In reality, your body simply needs a minute or two to cool down after being exposed to the hot outside air for a long time. This means that the ideal indoor temperature does not match the average temperature in a US home. Let’s look at some numbers: 

AC Indoor Temperature SettingTemperature
The Average US Indoor Temperature Setting72-78°F
US Department of Energy Indoor Temperature Recommendation78°F
Energy Star Indoor Temperature Recommendation78°F
Best Temperature When Outside of Your Home85°F
Potential Energy Bill Savings5-15%

So, an average home in the US is around 6°F colder than it should be. This means that most US citizens overpay for their monthly energy bills. Instead, it is much better to elevate the indoor temperature just a bit – this will lower your energy costs and extend the lifetime of your air conditioner. The cool air will still run through your home, but your ceiling fans can help disperse it throughout your home. 

Average Air Conditioning Temperature

As the average air conditioning temperature is set to around 6°F lower than it should be, you are probably overpaying on your energy bill. In fact, the DOE and Energy Star recommended setting for the temperature that you should set your thermostat is a bit higher and will help you save on your bills. When coupled with a programmable thermostat, zoning-based temperature control, and good energy habits, you will be able to enjoy a comfortable temperature all summer. 

In addition to this, these good practices will also help you save money. A smart thermostat will help you set and forget about the desired temperatures, while the zoning control will prevent you from cooling down spaces in your home that you are not using at a particular moment. Let’s consider these solutions in more detail. 

Programmable Thermostat

A programable thermostat is a precursor to a smart thermostat, such as Nest by Google. These thermostats are easy to set up, and they usually have a time-based temperature control. This way, you can preprogram the desired temperatures for specific parts of the day and the week. With this kind of adjustment power, your home will be cooler whenever you are there and will be a bit warmer when you are not around – helping you save on your energy costs. 

A smart thermostat, on the other hand, will learn about your energy needs ad temperature habits (usually for the first year after installation), and will be able to set the thermostat temperature as the need be, without you needing to interfere with it. A more consistent temperature with less energy being used equals reduced energy usage with these models. 


Besides programmable and smart thermostats, zoning allows for massive energy savings in your home. These thermostats require air conditioning that allows for cooling by zones and will keep the cold air where you need it – the living spaces during the day and the bedroom during the night. These zoning thermostats or zoning air conditioners will help you massively to reduce your energy usage but will still allow for a good night’s sleep. 

Programmable Thermostat vs Smart Thermostats

As there are two basic kinds of thermostats, it is good to know what the pros and cons of each are and how different they are from one another. First of all, we will discuss the programmable thermostat and the smart thermostat. Unlike the older type, the fixed thermostat, these can be preprogrammed to a desired temperature at different parts of the day. 

This can save a lot of time and money and add comfort to your life. With older thermostats, the cooling costs were usually much higher, as you could only set one thermostat temperature at a time. If you wanted a different temperature, you had to get up, go to the thermostat and enter the change manually. This took a lot of time, and a lot of people didn’t do it, making their cooling costs much higher. 

Luckily, programmable thermostat options soon appeared on the market. They allowed for a specific temperature to be pre-programmed for specific times of the day, with advanced models allowing for temperature settings to be changed for a whole week – with each day having a different setting if you wanted to. This supper useful function allows more free time and less hassle with the tech in your home. 

With programmable thermostats, your air conditioner would only work as much as needed. You could (and still can, as many homes still have these thermostats) set the temperature to a higher setting when not at home, and make the air conditioning lower the temperature a short time before you would come back home. With a thermometer like this, you could still enjoy your ideal temperature, but only when at home. This allows you to save energy and lower your cooling costs. 

As the market progressed, people soon realized that the ideal temperature was difficult to set: your body temperature and ceiling fan can also have a say in how hard your air conditioner needs to be working to maintain the temperature that FEELS right. With this in mind, companies worked and came up with smart thermostats. 

These thermostats can track your indoor temperature, your temperature habits, and general habits throughout the day. Then, they can make sure that your home is always kept at a comfortable temperature level and can even work automatically to reduce energy consumption when nobody is at home. 

They are energy efficient, and can automatically adjust the thermostat setting to match the cooling power needed to combat the outside temperature rise. With smart thermostats, your home’s temperature will not be as constant as with programmable thermostats, but they are much more energy efficient and can lower utility bills during summer. Because they make your air conditioning work less, they can also extend the life of your HVAC system and ensure lower humidity levels in your home. 

Factors That Affect Your AC Temperature Setting

So, why are smart thermostats so important? Well, you’ve probably noticed that 78°F sometimes feels too cold and sometimes too warm. The thing is that many factors affect the way you PERCEIVE the temperature or your subjective feel. With this in mind, let’s consider some of the factors that can make you want to crank up your AC unit and ceiling fans at the same time. 

Time of Day

The time of the day is important for many reasons. Humidity levels, temperature, wind, and your activities all change during the day, making your AC work harder than it actually should. Just consider how fresh 85°F outside can feel during the morning and humid and difficult to bear it can feel during the evening. Let’s consider different parts of the day to see how you can save energy with your ac. 


The daytime is usually the time that we do not spend at home. This is true for the workweek, but during the weekend, you will spend this time at home and experience a constant rise in the temperature as the sun glares through your windows and onto your roof. During the day, it is useful to keep doors and windows closed to keep all that light out. This will help you save on your AC expenses and will allow you to keep your summer AC temperature a bit higher than you usually would. 


The evenings are the time when you can feel the first breeze. Use this time to open a few windows on your home, shut the AC down, and let the evening fresh air come into your home and cool it down for you. Install ceiling fans if you do not already have them, and reverse the direction in which they blow. This will push the hot air up into the ceiling and will allow for a faster draft and a quick cooling after the peak cooling times. Always open windows that are closer to green areas and trees – doing so on the side of the house turned to the street may have the opposite effect. 

Night Time

During the nighttime, you should keep your windows open unless we are talking about a particularly hot night or a high-risk neighborhood. This way, the cold nighttime air can get into your home, cool it down, and keep your house free of pollutants. In the morning, when you wake up, close all the windows and keep the cold air inside. This way, your AC will work less during the day. 


Different times of the day can influence your AC energy use. The same goes for your daily activities. Needless to say, your daily activities will be the time when you can elevate the desired temperature in your home, as you will be spending all that time outside. Let’s consider a few of these, including school, working from home, empty homes, and sleeping activities. 


School and work offer the same repeating pattern when nobody is at home. This way, you can make the temperature go higher during the 6-10 hour periods when you are not at home. Elevating your indoor temperature to just 85°F for an average of 8 hours during the day can make your energy bill 5-15% lower at the end of the month. 

Working From Home

Working from home is a different deal, as there will always be someone who stays at home and needs the temperature kept at reasonable levels. However, some energy-efficient models of AC offer zoning and can keep a higher temperature in one part of your home while keeping the rest of the home cooler. They save energy by only providing cool air where it is needed. 

Empty Home

An empty home, especially for a prolonged period of time, is a great chance to reduce your energy expenses. Some people living in temperate climates even completely shut down their AC units. When they return, the home may be hot, but only for an hour or so until the AC reaches the desired temperature. To avoid overheating, it is always useful to keep the blinds and curtains on to avoid direct sunlight penetrating your home. Leaving windows ajar to allow your home to cool naturally can be risky and may not be worth it. 


Sleeping is the most common activity we all partake in. While sleeping, we need a temperature setting that is lower than usual so that the body can replenish its energy and recover after a day full of activities. A warm room is not a good place to sleep in – your need rooms that feel cooler, but the right temperature is individual: rather than lowering your AC temperature, try to experiment with different temperatures and covers of different thicknesses – you’ll know when you hit the sweet spot. 

Best AC Temperature for Summer

“What temperature should I set the thermostat on”? This is a common question, and the answer is: 78°F. This is a very good temperature, and will not make you feel too hot or too cold. You may notice that your ceiling fans can help improve the way this temperature feels – in fact, turning them on can turn a real temperature of 78°F into something that feels like 74°F. So, be smart about it and turn on the ceiling fan rather than lowering your AC temperature. 

Best AC Temperature for Sleeping

The ideal sleeping temperature is lower than the daytime temperature. Some people go as low as 64°F, but this may feel too low for some. Turning on the ceiling fan may prove to be too noisy for many, as you also need a quiet room for sleeping. The answer here depends on the time of the year. During the spring and the autumn, keep a window ajar, for as long as you have mosquito netting, and during the hot periods of the summer keep the windows closed and the AC turned on. 

Best AC Temperature for Energy Saving

85°F is the best temperature for energy saving. This will allow you to save 5-15% of your energy bill and will make your home just a few degrees above the ideal temperature. The set temperature should not be changed during the day, and it should stay the same in the entire house. This way, you can save even more. 

Best AC Temperature for Humidity Control

Humidity control is another important aspect to consider when thinking: “What temperature should I set in my home?”. The thing is that significantly lower temperatures can promote high air humidity and mold and mildew growth. Knowing this, you need to find a sweet spot when it comes to the indoor temperature – just low enough for you to feel comfortable, but high enough to prevent mildew from forming on the walls and behind your furniture. 

Factors to Consider When the Thermostat’s Not Reaching the Set Temperature

Once we know what the best temperatures are, it is important to note that at times, especially after prolonged use, you may experience issues with your thermostat and the AC not reaching the desired temperature. This can happen for a variety of reasons, including the thermostat placement, dirty air filters, broken or malfunctioning AC unit, and even the age of your AC. 

Thermostat Placement

Your thermostat should not be placed too close to any heating bodies or the window. The micro changes in the temperature can influence your thermostat to think that it has reached the set temperature when in reality, this may not be the case. Place your thermostat on a wall, far away from air exhaust and direct sun. 

Air Filters

You should check your air filters periodically. This means inspecting for dust and lint buildup. You should also wash them (contact the instruction manual to see if they can be washed), and replace them periodically. 

Check Your AC Unit

Checking your AC unit is also important. The outside unit can get dirty or clogged, grass and weeds may grow over it and reduce its efficiency. To avoid this issue, always clean the outdoor unit and make sure it is free of any obstacles that may slow down its heat dissipation. You should also make sure a professional inspects it once or twice a year. 

Age of the AC

The age of your AC also has a big say in how efficient your AC is. Older models may need freon top-off, cleaning, air filter replacement, or even a full-blown replacement. Always make this kind of decision with a professional. 

Energy Saving Tips for Cooling Your Home

temperature for air conditioner in summer

Besides making sure you have a good AC unit, you should also consider some other energy-saving tips for cooling your home. These tips will ensure you get to save energy while keeping your home at a reasonable temperature. Here are the tips: 

  • Use blinds if you have them, 
  • Use curtains during the day to keep the daylight out of your home. While curtains seem to work the best, 
  • Use the cool evening and night air to your advantage, 
  • Keep your windows and doors closed during the peak cooling times, 
  • Insulate your home, 
  • Caulk all the window and door frames, 
  • Insulate your roof space, 
  • Use a solar attic fan
  • Use shrubbery and trees around your home to your advantage – to help you keep the sun out, 
  • Spend time outdoors, especially during the evenings. 

When to Call for an HVAC Company?

In case you notice any issues with your AC, or if the unit is more than 10 years old, you should contact your HVAC company. You may need to replace the unit, or have a professional come and inspect your home AC in search of issues. Never forget that fan coil radiator and cooling bodies will also need regular, yearly cleaning and maintenance. 


Is it Cheaper to only Run AC at Night?

Yes, it can be cheaper to only run your AC at night. If you have free nights and weekends, or a TOU tariff, your AC may be cheaper to run at night. However, you may be better off keeping your windows open for the whole night, as the cool night air will enter your home and cool it down at no cost. 

Is it Cheaper to Leave AC on All Day?

Contrary to popular belief, keeping your AC on all day can easily cost less than turning it on and off all the time. In fact, adjusting the temperature to slightly higher than usual when you are not around may be the best option of all. Investing in insulation, curtains, and blinds, may also be a good option. 

What Makes Your AC Bill High?

Your AC uses a lot of power. This is what makes your AC bill so high. There are ways to save: turn the AC off in any room which you may not use, keep windows open during the night in areas where it is safe to do so and keep the curtains on for as long as there is sun shining directly into your home. In addition to this, installing a good solar attic fan and insulation will do the trick and keep your home cool in the summer and warm in the winter. 

How do I know if my AC is Overcharged?

If you can hear squealing noises from your AC, this may be a sign that your AC is overcharged. The AC will produce this sound if not all of the refrigerant liquid has been converted into gas and there are residues in pipes. Please do not try to fix this yourself – rather, call a professional to do the job for you. 


The best AC temperature is difficult to set, but will generally be between 78°F and 85°F. This temperature range will still feel comfortable, but you will not feel the need to put on a hoodie or the need to move the furniture and make sure there is no mold or mildew. With a temperature like this, you will also be saving money, while staying in a comfortable home. 

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