Turn AC Off When Not Home: Good Idea?

  • 2
turn ac off when hot home

Turn AC Off When Not Home: Good Idea?


A common thought and practice by many homeowners is that it’s a good idea to turn the AC off when not at home. After all, if you aren’t home, what’s the point of keeping it cool and comfortable? This does seem to make sense initially and seems like it would save money on the energy bill.

The Department of Energy says that 48% the average American household’s energy consumption is related to their air conditioning system. That’s a lot!

So, let’s look at all of the factors and truly come to a conclusion on the idea of turning our ac system’s off while we are away and if it actually saves us money.

Is It More Efficient to Leave Air Conditioning On?

Turning off the air conditioner for ANY part of the day in the South can feel like a death sentence! This is especially true in the Summer months, which can seem to last for about 8-9 months out of the year. Even if you turn it off when you’re away, coming back to that heat box is not fun. But, let’s get into the actual question at hand.

Do you actually save money by turning the AC off, or is it cheaper to leave the air conditioner on all day? 

Here’s the short answer: If you turn your air conditioner off while you’re not home, you will save money. It is cheaper. It is more efficient. All done….

Just kidding. All of the above is true, but we’re not done.

Even though turning the AC off will save you money, do you want to come home to a 90+ degree home? I personally don’t prefer that. So, rather than turning the AC completely off via the thermostat, it might be a better idea to simply turn up the thermostat.

Just 1 degree difference can create a 1% – 5% increase in efficiency (or the other way around). Tip: And, by the way, this is not just applicable when setting the temp when you are away. This is applicable even when you are home. If you can be comfortable with the AC set a degree or two (or more) higher, then consider adjusting your normal set temperature. I know someone who leaves their thermostat at 76…when they are at home! And honestly, it’s not that bad. I’ve been in their home a lot. They turn it down to a nice brisk 72 (sarcasm intended) at night when sleeping.

So, instead of completely turning your cooling system off when you’re away, you can turn the thermostat up. This will allow you to save money on your energy bill while not having to come home to the safari desert in your home.

What Temperature to Set Air Conditioner at When Away

There is no set perfect temperature to set your thermostat at when you’re gone. It’s going to come down to personal preference.

How much do you want to save?

What temperature are you comfortable with encountering when you arrive home, after work for example?

These are going to be the main factors in your decision.

I personally would say to at least raise the thermostat 7 degrees. So, if you normally keep the thermostat at 72, raise it to 79 when you are gone. But, if you want to raise it more, go ahead! The higher it’s raised the more the savings.

Related: Does Turning Down the Thermostat Save Money (Winter Months)?

One More Thing

Turning the thermostat up before you leave and down when you get home is how most of us will accomplish this energy saving process.

But, there’s a better way!

How nice would it be if you could just leave and don’t have to worry about turning the thermostat up? And then, about 30 minutes before you come home, the thermostat temp is lowered and you arrive to a cool comfortable pad? (Do people still say “pad”?)

This is what programmable thermostats do! You can set the thermostat to raise to a set temperature at a specific time and then lower to a set temperature at a specific time. You can even manage your system’s thermostat with your phone or tablet nowadays through a dedicated app.

turn off ac when not home

Turning AC Off vs Leaving it On

Well, I think we’ve covered this topic pretty thoroughly.

Turning the air conditioner off when not home does save money and it is a more efficient use of energy. But, it will be uncomfortably hot to come home to. If this doesn’t bother you and saving money is the main priority, then by all means go ahead. Be aware though: it can lead to moisture inside the home which can lead to mold later on. This is another reason turning up the thermostat is the preferred method, compared to turning it completely off.

What has been your experience with turning the AC off or just turning it up while you’re away? Feel free to leave a comment below!

We at Cagle Service hope this has helped you! If you live in the Jackson TN area and need some HVAC service or help, feel free to give us a call at 731-300-1030. We provide heating and air repair services, maintenance services, new unit installation services, and more!

Feel free to share this!


Brendan Shelton

August 22, 2019at 8:46 am

I really like your idea of raising the thermostat about 7 degrees when you leave so that you can save a lot of money without letting your home get extremely hot. My family is going on a trip to the west coast soon and we are worried that some of our plants and animals will get way too hot if we turn off the AC. We’ll consider your article as we get ready to leave our home for a couple of days. http://www.robinsonheatingandcooling.com/air-conditioning

Mindy Jollie

August 28, 2019at 1:44 pm

That’s good to know that seven degrees (F) is a good amount to allow your home’s temperature to increase to while everyone is out of the house. I imagine it doesn’t always actually get that hot, especially if you’ve got fans going and good ventilation in the house. My husband and I are trying to be more energy conscious, particularly with our air conditioning system so we can do a better job of maintaining it. https://www.butlerheatingandair.com/air-conditioner-maintenance-tips

Leave a Reply

Get more stuff like this
in your inbox

Subscribe to our mailing list and get helpful tips and updates!

Thank you for subscribing.

Something went wrong.