Turning AC ON and OFF VS Leaving It ON

You may have wondered, as you’re leaving for work in the morning, should you turn ac on and off or leave it on? Sure, it’s nice to come home to a cool house. But keeping the house like a refrigerator all day while it’s standing empty may not be the best thing for the long-term health of the AC system.

There are two schools of thought on this question. One is that AC systems work better when they’re working hard. So even if the house warms up while you’re away, your Air Conditioner will happily rise to the challenge and have it cooled within 15 minutes of your arrival home.

The other perspective is that it’s tough on the AC system to be turning it off and on frequently and that it’s easier to keep a house moderately cool than to allow the temperature to rise.

Homeowners questioning the turning AC on and off vs. leaving it on is for one purpose. They want to extend the life expectancy of their air conditioner. To do so, here are some tips to think about.

What’s Better? Turn Off AC or Leave It On?

As with most questions, the answer for turning ac on and off vs leaving it on is, It depends.

Air Conditioning In An Empty Home

Do you live in a single-family home or a condo? How long will you be away– for a few hours while you’re shopping, or for two weeks’ vacation? What temperature do you keep your house at?

The EPA says it’s better to shut off the air conditioner if you are away for more than a few hours. If you’re just popping out to walk the dog, leave it running. But if you’re at work for eight hours or more each day, shut it down. Following this line of thinking, it stands to reason that vacationers should come home to a toasty house.

If you live in a condo, your hot ceiling becomes someone’s hot floor. So you might want to keep the AC set at some minimum temperature– at least when your neighbors are home.

Regulating the AC Temperature

The issue of temperature settings is crucial. You can buy a programmable thermostat for about $50 and save hundreds on your AC bill each summer.

Just set the thermostat to turn off the system before you leave for work, and set it to turn back on a half-hour before you’re due home. Or– if you’d rather keep your home at a minimum cool– set it for 78 while you’re gone, to drop back to 68 just before you arrive home.

Some experts say it’s better to keep turning AC ON (even if your thermostat is set as high as 85 degrees) while you’re on vacation to keep the air circulating and protect furnishings.

Leave AC ON But Lessen the Strain

No matter what you decide – turning ac on and off or leaving it on, there are things you can do to lessen the burden on your AC system.

  • Make sure the windows and doors are closed.
  • Draw the blinds or drapes during the heat of the day.
  • Have your system serviced annually before the cooling season.
  • Make sure your filters are changed regularly.
  • Find a good a/c contractor to check your refrigerant levels and ductwork.

While the best air conditioners are designed to be able to handle ON and OFF situation, this doesn’t mean that you can afford to skip regular maintenance. That is the best thing you can do when it comes to prolonging the life of your air conditioner system.

Have you found the answer to turning ac on and off vs. leaving it on? Following the above steps will help keep your system running properly. Then chill out in a nice, cool house this summer– at least while you’re home to enjoy it.

About Mas Broto

Have been in the heating and air conditioning (HVAC) industry for over 20 years. He is person that will grow and thrive to learn more about the HVAC industry throughout his career. Mas Broto is also a blogger, who's dedicated to bringing you the best knowledge to get ahead in the game of life.