How to Turn an Air Conditioner On & Off to Save Money

Use your thermostat to reduce your energy costs.

Use your thermostat to reduce your energy costs.

During the hot summer months, air conditioning can use up valuable energy quickly if you don't use it efficiently. Wasted electric places unnecessary strain on the electrical grid — and your wallet. Turning your air conditioner on and off as you need it can save you money and reduce your impact on the environment.

Turn your air conditioner off whenever you leave the space being cooled for a period of one hour or more. While it's become common belief that leaving the air conditioner on low at all times uses less energy than re-cooling a space that has become warm in your absence, it's not true. You will still save money by shutting the A/C completely as you leave and cooling the room again when you return.

Set your thermostat on 78 degrees or higher whenever you leave the space being cooled (if you have a central cooling system). This ensures that you use the least amount of power possible while preventing a buildup of humidity. For every degree the thermostat is raised, the air conditioner uses up to 5 percent less energy. When you return home, lower the thermostat and allow the system to cool the house normally without having to struggle to eliminate moisture.

Raise the temperature on your thermostat or consider turning off the unit completely once the sun has gone down. With the greatest heat producer gone for the night, you can save a substantial amount of energy and money by using up the cold air your cooling system has pumped out during the daytime. By lightening the load on the system in the off-peak hours, you lessen the impact of its use all day.


  • Contrary to what may seem to be common sense, an air conditioner that is running on high uses power more efficiently than one running on low.
  • The use of ceiling fans can make a huge difference in the temperature of your home. They tend to use less energy than air conditioners, and they circulate the air more efficiently. Use the two together for the best results.

About the Author

Robert Morello has an extensive travel, marketing and business background. He graduated with a Bachelor of Arts from Columbia University in 2002 and has worked in travel as a guide, corporate senior marketing and product manager and travel consultant/expert. Morello is a professional writer and adjunct professor of travel and tourism.

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