Aug 5, 2022 - News

🌡️ The great thermostat debate

Illustration of the sun with a thermostat dial on it.
Illustration: Maura Losch/Axios

Don't touch that dial.

  • Amid another heat wave, we recently asked you to weigh in on your standard summer thermostat settings. Thanks for participating in our very unscientific email survey!

Why it matters: Smart indoor climate control can save energy, money and is good for the planet. Plus, who doesn't love a good debate?

The big picture: Most of you prefer to keep the AC between 74-78°F during the day while many drop it at night.

Yes, but: Some of you drop the thermostat as low as 70, while others are without AC or set it as high as 82.

Between the lines: Lots of factors come into play, including home design, health conditions, income levels and the desire to be friendly to the environment. Or your roommates.

  • Ultimately, a person's quality of life can vary greatly depending on how much they're willing and able to spend on AC.

The bottom line: There's a lot of variation when it comes to what makes a comfortable climate — there's no "right" answer.

  • The federal government's Energy Star program doesn't have a recommended AC temperature, but the EPA says to increase your preferred setpoint by 7°F while out and 4°F while sleeping.

💡 Pro tip: It's more efficient to keep the AC running throughout the summer than to keep turning it off and on, the HVAC pros at Atlas Butler tell Axios. On hotter days, they recommend setting it to 75-80°F.

🥶 Alissa's thought bubble: Speaking of a good debate — thanks for bolstering my argument that our 72-degree household is a bit too chilly!

Bonus: Your hot takes

Andrew P.: "Seventy when we're home, 74 when we're away, 71 at night and 78 if we're on vacation."

  • "My partner always wants the AC colder than what I have set. I'm almost always cold already, so I'm constantly going back and bumping it back up to 70!"

Elizabeth B.: "Seventy three with a fan on. About perfect!"

Kelsey N.: "My husband and I actually do agree … we try to set it at a reasonable level (73-74) in an attempt to be a bit more environmentally conscious."

Nolan W.: ​​"Seventy-four degrees during the day. Seventy degrees at night. If gone for a day or two, 75 for the cat's comfort."

Della P.: "I like it warmer than most people … 77-78 all year."

Diane D.: "Seventy eight ... no debate, just me and dogs!"

Sue A.: "During the day, set at 80 ... 72 from bedtime until morning. I have a lot of trees and mostly live on the first floor, so the AC doesn't have to run a lot."

Fran B.: "Seventy five to 76 day and night, sometimes with a fan running."

  • "It has taken a few years for the two of us to be compatible about house temperatures but it was never a heated debate."

Steve R.: "Seventy six in my north-south facing house, with a ceiling fan."

Trevin F.: "No central air in the house so the temperature is whatever the house settles to (currently 76)."

Heather M.: "Seventy-two degrees. Since at least one family member works from home, no reason to change based on time of day."

  • "One family member has heat sensitivity so it's not worth the money savings to bump the temperature higher since it will make existing chronic health conditions worse."

Deb Z.: "Seventy five. I live in a condo with lots of windows. I close the drapes and close all doors ... that are not used."

Clinton S.: "Seventy-four degrees."

Scott J.: "Seventy seven in our house (winter it's at 68)."

Rita W.: "Seventy seven to 78 at night, 80-82 during the day. Usually we turn off the AC in the morning and open windows. We can do this because we have a 1,100-square-foot ranch home."

  • "My rule is if it's 83 inside in the evening the AC is going on."
  • "I would prefer the AC at 75-76 and a blanket to stay warm (waste of energy though)."
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