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Heat wave: Should you turn up or turn down AC?

Heat wave: Should you turn up or turn down AC?
Posted: 6:05 PM, Jul 20, 2016
Updated: 2018-06-16 13:34:59Z

UPDATED 6/15/18:

Tom Wendel's air conditioning is working for now, but the Monfort Heights, Ohio, man is concerned his aging system may not be up for the challenge in this week's heat wave.

So he called HELP heating and cooling to give it a checkup. Smart move: HELP's Josh Battele says if your AC is going to fail, it usually happens the hottest week of the year.

"The system is working harder and harder, right now," he explained. "If it can't get proper air flow at that point your compressor is working harder, your fan motor is working harder, which works other components even harder."

In Wendel's case, Battele spotted an almost clogged filter, a no-no during hot weather.

Turn it Up, Down, or Off?

The question a lot of people ask during a heat wave: Does it make sense to turn off your air conditioner for a few hours when you go out for the day, to save wear and tear, and money?

Josh says no, because it will take the AC hours and hours to cool the house down. Plus, the house will get more humid, straining the compressor even more once it is back on.

"Definitely don't turn your thermostat to the off position to save save money," he said.

Instead, he suggests keeping it on, but turning it up a couple of degrees so it doesn't have to work as hard.

The consumer guide Angie's List agrees, suggesting you:

  • Turn your AC up as close to 80 as you comfortably can. Heat waves are not a time to keep your house at 68.
  • Close blinds and curtains on the south side of your home.
  • Keep ceiling fans running on slow speed to add a slight breeze.
  • Open the basement door and put a fan blowing up the stairs for free cooling.
  • Don't run the oven at all when it is more than 90 degrees outside. It's like turning on a space heater.

Tom Wendel is doing all that because he doesn't want a huge repair bill like so many other families right now.

That way you don't waste your money.
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