It’s time to plan for summer! Soon enough, we’ll have consistently warm temperatures, and that means you need to have a fully functional air conditioner running pretty much 24/7.
“Wait,” you might be wondering, “Can I run my air conditioner 24/7?”
The answer is, “yes and no.” We get it, that’s a frustrating response, but bear with us! We will elaborate.
You see, there’s no problem having your air conditioner set to “cool” 24/7 during the summer. The “problem” arises when you set your thermostat so low that your air conditioner can’t possibly reach the desired setting, and therefore the compressor keeps cycling on and even staying on when it shouldn’t. This is what gets inefficient and leads to exacerbated wear and tear.
Read on as we teach you about something called the temperature differential and learn how to use your cooling system in the best and most efficient way possible!
What Is the Temperature Differential?
Perhaps at some point you’ve wondered if it’s really okay to set your thermostat down as low as it will go (usually 68°F or even lower) and keep it there all the time. The short answer is no, it’s really not. While your air conditioner should be able to have no trouble meeting your cooling needs if it is properly installed and maintained, it does have its limits, in the form of something called a temperature differential.
This is a measurement of how much the air conditioner can actually change the temperature of the air indoors in relation to what the temperature is outside.
The temperature differential for the standard residential central air conditioning system is 20°F. This means that if it’s a 100°F day outside, your air conditioner will be able to successfully meet the air conditioners demands if it’s set to 80°F, maybe 78°F–the temperature that most people can maintain comfort at. But if you try to set that thermostat to 70°F, your air conditioner is going to struggle. This will exacerbate wear and tear and cause other problems.
Setting your thermostat as low as it will go does not help your home cool down any faster–it simply causes the compressor of your cooling system to run more often, and for longer.
Understanding the temperature differential will help you avoid pushing your air conditioner beyond its limits, or force it to waste valuable energy training to achieve a temperature inside your home that it simply cannot. The bigger the range between the indoor and outdoor temperatures, the harder your air conditioner will need to run, essentially. It will not only work at maximum power (that 20° differential), but heat will move into your home faster.
As we alluded to above, the recommended temperature setting on a home thermostat is 78°F. This is the temperature at which most people can maintain comfort, plus it doesn’t cause your system to work harder than it should have to in order to keep you comfortable.