Should You Turn off Your Air Conditioner While on Vacation?

July 17, 2013

With the kids out of school, you may be planning a trip away from your Kansas City home this summer.

And you may be wondering, “Should I turn off my air conditioner while I’m gone?” After all, you don’t leave all the lights on in your home while you’re away, right?

If you search the internet, you’ll find some conflicting opinions on the pros and cons of shutting off your air conditioner completely while on vacation. Here’s our advice:

Don’t turn it off

To understand why you shouldn’t turn off your air conditioner while away, you should first understand what an air conditioner does.

Yes, it cools your home. But it also removes humidity. And in a climate like Kansas City that’s an important function.

For optimum comfort and for the health of your home, the humidity in your house should be no higher than 50%. More than that and you run into common humidity problems, such as:

  • Mold
  • Musty smells and odors
  • Peeling paint
  • Warped wood furniture (floors, cabinets, etc.)

Turning off your air conditioner means it won’t be removing the humidity from your air, leaving your home vulnerable to the problems above. It also means the temperature in your home will be very hot, which can lead to:

  • Placing stress on your refrigerator/freezer (increasing energy bills and the chance of it breaking down)
  • Spoiling food in your pantry
  • Harming sensitive electronics

But we also don’t recommend just leaving your thermostat as it’s set now.

Instead, turn it up

For most homeowners who are going on vacation for a week or two, it’s probably best to keep your air conditioner on. But there’s no need to cool your entire home the same way you normally do – so turn your thermostat up.

Usually a setting it around 83-86 degrees is good.

This should run your air conditioner enough to remove excess humidity and keep other parts of your home safe.

If you use a programmable thermostat, look for a “vacation”, “hold” or “away” function. These settings will keep your thermostat from cooling your home to your normal schedule.

Further reading to save even more

If you want to make sure your home is as energy efficient as possible, energy.gov has put together a great list of other things you can do to save on energy while on vacation.

Santa Fe Air Conditioning and Heating serves the Kansas City area. For more information, contact us online.