If you talk to your friends or search around the Internet, it seems like everyone has a different opinion about what you should do with your air conditioner when you’re away from home. Is it a good idea to shut off your system completely or should you raise your thermostat setting instead? Also, what should be done with your air conditioner during severe weather? Today we’re going to offer our expert opinion on these issues by answering the question, “Should I ever turn off my air conditioner?”

Should I turn off my air conditioner when I leave for work?

First, we’ll address the most common situation in this debate. Many homes are unoccupied during the weekdays when family members are at work or school. Can you save energy by turning off your air conditioner during those hours?

Of course, you can save energy by shutting off your air conditioner, because your system won’t consume energy when it’s not being used. The problem arises when you get home and turn your air conditioner back on. If you leave your system off throughout the day, temperature levels in your home will consistently rise. Temperatures will get so high that the amount of energy it takes to cool your home back down to a comfortable level will cancel out any energy that you saved by leaving your system off.

In addition to efficiency issues, there are other side effects of turning off your A/C during the day. If you have pets, for example, it might be unsafe for them to be left alone in the heat during the day. Also, the last thing you want during a hard day at work is to come home to a hot and humid home. You might have to wait a few hours before your home cools back down to a comfortable level.

Instead of turning off your air conditioner when you leave for work, we suggest raising your normal thermostat setting by about 2-3 degrees to save energy while you’re away.

Should I turn off my air conditioner when I go on vacation?

Many people consider shutting off their air conditioners before they leave for vacation. Not only will this amplify the problems listed above, but it can also lead to even more serious issues.

By leaving off your air conditioner for days at a time, nothing will be done to control humidity levels inside your home. If humidity levels are high for an extended period, wooden furniture can warp, paint and wallpaper can peel, condensation can stain your walls and ceilings and your home can develop a musty smell.

Another issue with leaving your air conditioner off during vacation is that your refrigerator will have to work extremely hard because the area surrounding it will be hot. Not only will this increase your energy bills, but it can also damage your refrigerator or cause it to leak water.
Instead of turning off your air conditioner before you leave for vacation, we suggest setting your thermostat to around 78-80 degrees.

Should I turn off my air conditioner during a storm?

Air conditioners are built to withstand the elements outside, so you should not be concerned with running your system when it’s rainy or windy.

The only time you might consider turning off your air conditioner is when there is a lot of lightning nearby. Shutting off your system may help protect your system from a power surge, but you should be sure to turn your system back on as soon as the storm passes. Better yet, ask Jerry Kelly Heating & Air Conditioning about installing a surge protector for your air conditioner and furnace. A surge protector will protect your heating and cooling system from power surges so that you truly never have to worry about shutting it off!

If you have any questions about whether or not you should ever turn off your air conditioner, or if you’d like a cooling system serviced or installed in your home, contact Jerry Kelly Heating & Air Conditioning, your St. Louis air conditioning contractor. We provide service all over the St. Louis area, including towns like St. Charles, St. Peters, and Town and Country, MO.
photo credit: Deadhorse via photopin (license)

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