Is It Better To Run AC All Day Or Just At Night?

When summer comes round and the temperatures really begin to soar, you’ll soon find yourself turning to your trusty air conditioner to keep your home cool. But, air conditioners can be expensive to run and the more you use yours, the higher your energy bill will be!

With this in mind, it’s important to know whether it’s best to run an AC all day or whether you can get away with just running it at nighttime.

Why does running your AC matter?

why does running your ac matter

There are two ways of looking at this. First of all, keeping your AC running all day means that there is a constant flow of cool air being pumped into your home.

In turn, your AC unit never really has to work too hard to keep your home consistently cool. Also, as the nighttime temperatures are generally lower, running throughout the day just makes more sense.

However, running your AC all day comes at an increased energy cost. It will also increase your carbon footprint as you’ll be using more electricity throughout the day and, even though some air conditioners are Energy Star Certified, they still use energy.

So, to put it simply, running your air conditioner all day may help keep your home consistently cool but it comes at an increased cost and it’s less environmentally friendly.

But what about running your AC unit just at night time? There are definitely benefits to doing this as far as your energy bills are concerned, but you won’t really notice much difference throughout the day.

The reason for this is that temperatures are cooler at night. While an air conditioner will help if you’re finding it too unbearably hot to get to sleep, switching it off in the morning won’t help keep your home cool as the sun rises and the temperature with it.

You might be wondering what the best way to keep your home cool during the hottest months of the year is if neither running your AC all day or just at night seems to be the right thing to do. Well, the solution lies in two areas; your AC’s features and the way you maintain it.

How using a better air conditioner saves money long-term

how using a better air conditioner saves money long term

Some air conditioners have timer and scheduling functions that allow you to program them to automatically switch on and off at certain times of the day. This is a great way to give your home short blasts of cool air to keep it at a consistent, comfortable temperature without having to leave it running all day long.

Some also have smart sensors. These power the AC unit into action when the heat inside your home reaches a set temperature. It will then power off automatically when the desired temperature has been reached.

As far as maintenance is concerned, you simply need to check your filters regularly. If they are clogged with dust and debris, your AC will need to work harder to cool your home, resulting in reduced performance and higher energy bills. However, keep your filters clean and your AC will be able to cool your home in a shorter amount of time.

Another really simple way to use your air conditioner as infrequently as possible while still getting its best performance is to keep your windows and doors closed while it’s running.

Doing this will stop cool air from escaping your home and, likewise, it’ll stop warm air from entering from outside.

Keeping shades and blinds closed during particularly hot spells of weather will help keep the temperature inside your home cooler for longer as well.

Is it cheaper to leave your AC on?

is it cheaper to leave your ac on

As we’ve explained above, leaving your AC on all day long will result in higher energy bills. But, there are two sides to this story and it really depends on how energy efficient your air conditioner is and what kind of temperatures you’re battling.

If you have an Energy Star Certified air conditioner running all day, it’ll cost less to run all day than an older model that hasn’t been designed with energy efficiency in mind. It will, however, increase your energy bills as you’ll still be using more electricity than you normally would.

However, turning your air conditioner on and off at set intervals throughout the day during periods of extremely hot weather means that your AC will need to use more power to bring the temperature down to a comfortable level.

As a result, it may end up using more energy doing this than it would if it was left to maintain a consistent temperature.

Along with this, you also need to determine whether your air conditioner is capable of cooling the size of the room you’ve placed it in.

Why the amount of time you run your AC matters

For example, if you place an AC that is designed to cool 250 square feet of space in a room measuring 500 square feet, it’ll use more energy. This means it will cost more to run as it will take much longer to cool the room.

Finally, you also need to factor maintenance and repair costs into the equation. If you leave an air conditioner running all day, there’s a chance that you’ll need to replace the filters a lot sooner than you would if you run it periodically.

This can create a bit of a false economy as, even if your energy efficient air conditioning unit hasn’t increased your bills too much, you’ll still be spending money to make sure it continues to work as efficiently as possible.

All things considered, it might be cheaper to run your AC unit all day as long as it’s Energy Star Certified. If you’ve got an older model, it will cost you more to leave it running continuously.

The best way to save money on your energy bills and to keep your home consistently cool during the summer is to invest in an air conditioner with certain features that are designed to use less energy. This includes things like schedules, timers, and smart sensors that will automatically power the AC on and off.

And, if at all possible, make sure your AC is Energy Star Certified.

James Marshall

About the author

James is a business management professional and consultant with a former background in maintenance, repair, and hands-on projects. He enjoys DIY tasks and maintenance around the home as well as part-time writing. Read more »