Which uses more energy?

by Donny on May 18, 2012

A question I’ve run into and have heard quite a bit of debate about is which is cheaper: Turning off the air conditioner while gone or leaving it at a steady temperature all day. Obviously it’s going to cost money to run the AC all day but those arguing the flip side of the coin say it costs more to keep it off when you’re away because it will take a lot of time to cool the room back down.

I currently live in a house but I used to rent out my own apartment and when I did, I would turn leave it off while at work. Once I got home, I’d walk into a very warm home, quickly crank the AC and jump into a cold shower. I’d prefer to stay in that cold shower for a little bit while the AC did its job. I’d come out about 10 or 15 minutes later, in time for the AC to have at least taken some effect.

Someone later told me it’s best to keep it a steady temperature because of how much energy is used in cooling the room but I couldn’t help but be skeptical. I never got around to testing it, just figured I’d leave it up to Mythbusters.

Anyway, I went online and where I found a discussion about it on Yahoo where this very question was posed, and the debate continued.

One person said it saves a lot of money to turn off the AC while out of the house, especially if it’s when you’re at work for eight or more hours. However, someone living in Arizona said she keeps her temperature at 87 degrees at all times and managed to cut her bill in half.

Others will argue it depends on how hot it is and if it’s over 90 degrees to keep it running but if it’s under that, it’s OK to turn it off.

Then of course it depends on how many people live in the house and when there’s someone home. I know since there are others living in my house we keep it running but if I were to ever live alone again, I’d probably keep it off when I’m at work. I felt like that was a pretty good system I had going on there.

That may or may not be the best option, which is exactly why it might not be a bad idea for Mythbusters to do this experiment.

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