Temperatures are steadily rising into the 90s these days, and it can be tempting to crank the desired temperature on your AC thermostat lower and lower in hopes of achieving the cool comfort we are all craving. But trust us: it simply won’t work. Read on for the scoop on why your AC has to work harder on hot days, and why plummeting the temperature on your thermostat won’t do anything to cool things off any faster.
Hot Weather Burdens Your Central AC
It should come as no surprise that as temperatures rise, it becomes more difficult for your central AC to effectively cool your home. Very hot air transfers into your indoor environment faster and in more ways than the central AC can compensate for. There are three main avenues for heat to transfer into your home and burden your system: conduction, radiation, and convection.
As the US Department of Energy explains, “Conduction is heat traveling through a solid material. On hot days, heat is conducted into your home through the roof, walls, and windows. Radiation is heat traveling in the form of visible and non-visible light. Sunlight is an obvious source of heat for homes. In addition, low-wavelength, non-visible infrared radiation can carry heat directly from warm objects to cooler objects.”
“Older windows will allow infrared radiation coming from warm objects outside to radiate into your home… Convection is another means for the heat from your walls and ceiling to reach you. Hot air naturally rises, carrying heat away from your walls and causing it to circulate throughout your home.” With all of these avenues for heat to infiltrate your home, your system can quickly be taxed.
Why Cranking the AC Won’t Work
As tempting as it is, setting your thermostat to 69 when your system is already having trouble keeping up will not cool your home faster. The reason is simple: a central AC system is a machine, and like any other, it can only cycle on at set intervals, and can only work so fast. Chances are your thermostat is already set to a desired temperature which falls below the temperature in your home on a very hot day. Give your unit the opportunity to catch up and preserve its lifespan and efficiency by keeping your thermostat set at a more easily attainable temperature on these very hot days of late summer. We suggest setting your thermostat somewhere between 74-79 degrees.