Texas Living

How to Set Your Thermostat in Summer

By Peter Simek 8.5.22

Every Texan knows the feeling. You’re sitting at your desk or knocking out some chores in the late afternoon when, suddenly, the hot Texas weather seems to creep its way indoors. You rush to the thermostat to turn down the temperature when you realize — gasp! — it is already set lower than normal, and your unit is working hard to keep the house cool. Then the dread sets in: When the bill comes, it’s going to be a whopper.

It isn’t easy staying cool during the Texas summer. Knowing how to most efficiently — and cost-effectively — keep your home at a livable temperature can be maddening. But what is the best thermostat setting for summer? We try to settle the debate once and for all.

The Official ‘Best’ Temperature

If you go by recommendations made by the U.S. Department of Energy, every home thermostat should be set to 78 degrees. The rationale? The feds believe this is the highest comfortable level, and the closer the temperature is to the temperature outside, the less work your AC must do to cool your home. However, while this is the advised setting, the DOE advises people to “set your thermostat at a temperature you find comfortable.” But, like saving gas by always driving 55 mph on the highway, 78 degrees doesn’t work for everyone — and particularly not in Texas.

One of the joys of summer is stepping out of the 100-degree heat and into an icy home. So, while 78 degrees may not work for your household, keep this DOE statistic in mind. For every degree you raise your thermostat, you may save 3% on your energy bill.

Finding the Right Temperature

To find a temperature that works for you, try this experiment. Start at your usual thermostat setting, and increase the thermostat by one degree per day. Repeat this each day until you begin to feel uncomfortable. This is a good way to identify your temperature threshold. Even if you only change your regular setting a few degrees, that could end up translating into huge savings on your bill.

Another trick for energy savings is to use different settings at different times. A programmable thermostat will help you maintain different day and night settings, and if you have a regular work schedule, you can also raise the temperature automatically while you are away. The recommended temperature while you are out of the home is around seven to 10 degrees higher than your at-home temperature. This will ensure that your unit stays off but doesn’t have to struggle too hard to cool the house back down.

Keeping Cool and Saving Energy

Another way to endure a higher thermostat setting this summer is to look for other ways to keep cool air in your home. These include:

  • Trapping air by hanging window treatments that also block sun.
  • Installing or replacing eroded window stripping.
  • Limiting use of appliances, such as ovens, that generate heat.
  • Installing ceiling fans.
  • Using a dehumidifier to make warmer air more comfortable.
  • Using area fans to circulate air while you sleep, allowing you to turn up the temp on the rest of the house while ensuring your bedroom stays cool.

Find energy-saving advice for the rest of the year here.

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