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Don’t touch that (thermostat) dial! Or should you…?



Separating fact from fiction when it comes to home utility consumption can be so mind-boggling that the subject is fit to give an aspirin a headache. Myth versus reality. For instance, will closing your vents reduce the heating bill? (No.) Even though the DVD player is turned off does it still consume power? (Yes.) Is it beneficial to run the air conditioner all day, even when nobody’s home? (Mostly no.) There are a lot of misconceptions regarding the last question that get bandied about as gospel truth when, factually, they’re on par with the old claim that leaving batteries in the fridge extends their shelf-life. (False.) So, concerning the A.C., to be (left on), or not to be (left on) - that is the question. (Horrible Shakespeare allusion notwithstanding.)

The myth that running the air conditioner constantly, as opposed to stopping and starting it, incurs a lower monthly power bill is patently false. The widespread belief that ramping-up and shutting down the A.C. uses an inordinate amount of energy is pure bunk. The power needed to facilitate the process is almost negligible.

An effective method to operate and monitor power consumption is to utilize a programmable thermostat. Program it to turn off when you leave for the day and restart it about 30 minutes prior to your return. Or, if you’re steadfast in your resolve to run the system in your absence, increasing the temperature by 7° - 10℉ should reduce your bill by approximately 10%.

Yet, another cost-cutting move to reduce energy expenditure is to keep the drapes and doors shut, which helps shield against warming sunlight and wards off hot air infiltration. If there is one benefit to running the A.C. continually it’s that it will serve to dehumidify the home while you’re away.

In an earlier blog, we highlighted the old maxim that “there is no such thing as cold, there is only the absence of heat.” Heat wants to go where heat isn’t (repeat this to yourself a few times until it sinks in), and this is true of your home. In essence, by keeping the home cool, the heat surrounding it is more attracted to this void of warm air. We know that nature abhors a vacuum, and to keep this void from being filled by heat, the air conditioner will have to needlessly work overtime, pointlessly over-taxing the unit.

Do your wallet and your air conditioner a favor; turn the system off when you’re not around to appreciate the fruits of its labor.

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