*Air conditioning an empty home: As with most questions, the answer is, It depends. 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 will be 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 temperature the issue of temperature settings is crucial. You can buy a programmable thermostat 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 the AC running– even if your thermostat is set as high as 85 degrees– while you’re on vacation, to keep the air circulating and protect furnishings.