Want a Lower Electric Bill this Summer? Keep it 78 Degrees or Above!

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finger adjusting ac temperature on ecobee smart thermostat

This new recommendation will save you money if you can take the heat! 🔥

A lot of us noticed a big spike in our home energy spending during the Coronavirus pandemic. Still, a lower electric bill is one tried-and-true method of saving some extra cash. While it’s not exactly new news, the federal government has come forward with some recommendations for air conditioning our homes in the summer.

Energy Star, a partnership between the Department of Energy and the Environmental Protection Agency, now suggests that the coolest AC temperature should be 78 degrees. 😱

hand pressing button on thermostat to change ac temperature

For maximum efficiency and reduction of energy costs, Energy Star recommends keeping the inside temperature of your home as close to the outside temperature as you can comfortably do so. More specifically, the agency recommends keeping your air conditioner at 78℉ when you’re home in the summertime, 82℉ when you’re asleep, and 85℉ when you’re away. 😬

Needless to say, these suggestions felt the heat from readers who prefer to be in control of their AC temperature: 


“Keeping the temperature as close as possible to the outside temperature in Las Vegas?! I don’t think so!”  Gary


“When the Federal Government wants to pay my electric bill, then they can make suggestions. Until then, I’ll keep my thermostat set where I want it. Less Government, More Fun.” – Doug


“We leave ours between 69°-71° in the summer and 72°-73° in the winter. There are many things I save money on, clothing from thrift stores, using coupons, etc. so if I have to spend a little more to stay cool or warm throughout the year I’m gonna do it.” – Laura 


“I would love for whoever is making these ‘rules’ to come spend the summer in south Georgia next year. I’ll eat PB&J and ramen noodles every day – but I’m not going to be hot in my own house.” – Kristina


“Here in Florida, it’s such wet, humid air that if your AC doesn’t run enough, your home will be damp and it could create mold. I don’t think those recommendations would work for my climate.” – Kim


“I’m with y’all – I sleep at 68°-74°. I can handle a bit warmer during the day, but I don’t like to wake up sweating – my sleep is more valuable than saving a few bucks a month.” – Katrina


“I think 82° is too warm for sleeping. I would rather have it cooler at night and a little warmer in the day.” – Ana

So clearly, a lot of us are not too thrilled about these recommendations, even if it means a lower electric bill… but here’s the catch:

ac unit behind hair and desk lamp

According to the Department of Energy, reducing the use of your AC saves you about 3% on your utility bill for each degree increase. Energy officials say that these savings could add up fast, on both a personal and a global scale. Air conditioners use about 5% of the electricity produced in the US every year, at a cost of over $29 billion.

Not to worry, if sleeping in an 82° room doesn’t sound dreamy, then Energy Star has other recommendations outside of the AC temperature to reduce utility costs and still stay cool.


Here are some other ways to reduce the heat in your home:

1. Use a ceiling fan for better air circulation.

monte carlo york ceiling fan in pewter

A ceiling fan will allow you to raise your thermostat as much as four degrees without sacrificing comfort! And speaking of fans, you should always make sure to use the bathroom fan when showering or bathing.

“We use ceiling fans in rooms where we are sleeping, watching TV, or hanging out, and we all sleep with stationary fans blowing on us. Is it worth it? For us, it absolutely is!” – Brenda


2. Install a programmable thermostat to have more control over the temp.

Hand holding a thermostat box with nest thermostat on wall in background

This helps automatically optimize the AC temperature for each time of day, and many smartphone-compatible options let you control your home’s temperature from anywhere.

Hip Tip: If you’re thinking about buying a smart thermostat, be sure to check with your gas or electric provider first. Many power companies offer cash back rebates whenever you buy certain models of energy-saving thermostats!


3. Add more insulation to the house for a lower electric bill in summer and winter!

woman sitting at window with laptop

Adding more insulation to places like your attic, sealing cracks, large windows, or other areas that allow in the air will help keep the warm air out when you’re trying to keep things cool–and the cool air out when you’re trying to warm up in winter.

“We put in extra insulation in our attic to retain cold air in the summer and to prevent hot air from escaping in the winter to make our living space warmer.” – Betty


4. Cook outdoors more to avoid heating up the kitchen.

opening the lid of the Traeger smoker in backyard

Using an outdoor grill or smoker to prepare food rather than heating up the oven or stove will keep heat out of the house. If you’re in the market to buy a new grill, Lina’s husband is obsessed with this one!

Hip Tip: Don’t have a grill? Check out these easy Crock-Pot recipes that we love as they’ll be sure to keep that hot oven off. However, if you must use the oven or stovetop, just be sure to use the kitchen range hood at all times.


5. Install insulated window coverings and keep the sun rays out and get a lower electric bill in summer.

hand holding a pair of curtains in store

To prevent the sun from heating your home, hang blackout curtains or some light-blocking shades. This will ultimately help cut down on cooling costs since your window treatments will be blocking the sun and heat from coming in.

“I also leave my blinds closed in summer and made heavy curtains out of thick fabric for my bedroom to keep the sun out better.” – Mary 


6. Invest in a high-efficiency unit for better cooling power.

White air conditioning wall unit ac temperature set at 78 degrees

While it’s not the cheapest alternative, upgrading to a high-efficiency AC unit will cost less and work better at cooling down your home even when changing the AC temperature to a few degrees higher–and it’ll be worth it for an overall lower electric bill.

Hip Tip: Speaking of AC units, make sure you’re regularly cleaning and replacing your AC unit’s filters.


7. Sleep comfortably with some cooling bed sheets.

woman laying in bed sleeping

Having a lower electric bill shouldn’t mean skimping on sleep! If you prefer chillier temps at night, setting the thermostat to 82℉ probably feels like sleeping in a sauna. 🥵 Luckily, you can score some of our favorite cooling bedsheets to help keep you cool and comfy during the night.

Here’s what Collin had to say about her Cuddledown cooling bedsheets!

I took my sister to a spa in Arizona for a girl’s getaway trip in January and the place we stayed at had the most amazing cooling bed sheets ever!!! We were both so obsessed because they were so cozy and soft, and we literally felt like we were sleeping in a crisp, yet luxurious cloud.

We asked the hotel where we could buy them and the brand, then I immediately hopped online to grab some. The prices were actually pretty reasonable compared to what I thought they’d be and they’re so worth it!” –Collin

And if you want to lower the temp even further, you can score 16% off this mattress cooling system from Target!


Bonus Tip: Just change your AC temperature by a couple of degrees for big savings and a lower electric bill all year!

Finger pushing screen to change ac temperature on thermostat for lower electric bill

If you’re struggling to comprehend how some people are living in such hot homes or you simply don’t live in a climate that allows for you to make these recommended changes, consider gradually raising the temperature by a degree or two to start.

Here’s what Emily on our team did with her heat over the last few months to combat the cold, rather than the heat. While it’s the opposite temperature application, it can make a similar difference in the warmer months, too:

“I’ve been trying to keep our heat down because our bill was astronomically high in March. After dropping the temperature from a consistent 68° down to 62°, we saved about $120 the next month.

We have an older heating unit and it felt significantly colder to us, but it really does make a difference in your bill! We’re going to shoot for a happy medium of 65º next month.” – Emily 


Wanna save even more this summer? Check out how the team cut costs here!


Sara is a self-taught blogger and photographer with 5 years of experience having work featured in various building, travel, and fashion publications, most notably Bassett Furniture and Fossil.


Join The Discussion

Comments 156

  1. Momma of 8

    I live in San Diego. I am on the coast so no need for AC. Summers are mid 70s to low 90s. 90s would be during heatwaves which usually only last 3-5 days. Winters we can get down to mid 40s in the middle of the night, but it is mostly in the 50s at night. Daytime temps during the winter can be anywhere in the 60s. I love where I live.

    • Sabine

      So, now we know you live in San Diego and don’t need AC. Good for you. But, what does your comment contribute to the subject? BTW, I left filthy San Diego 5 yrs. ago and could not be happier, I rather live with my A/C.

      • Roger Brown

        Tell of your non filthy environment.

  2. CindyKP

    Thank you for such useful information! I agree with most; I also like it cooler, but it is a good thing to at least fully understand the consequences of our decisions 🙂

  3. daisy-0

    I place box fans in front of my air ducts. This circulates the cool air throughout the room better helping to keep it cooler. By doing this I’ve gone from keeping it at 70-72 to 74-75. Also blackout curtains, grilling out doors and other things mentioned here.

  4. Jackie Martin

    So in Texas if we kept inside temperature close to the same setting as outside, that would be 95 to 110 degrees. Nope to that! lol. We keep ours at 73-74 day and 68 at night.

  5. Savannah

    When I did this before..MOLD started growing in my apartment! Not good ..especially if you live in Florida.

  6. Cassie

    I live in PA. We’re aloud to shop for our electricity providers. It’s so easy to do there’s actually a website you can go to to compare prices. The catch is that all the prices are introductory prices. So they will give you a good deal from anywhere from 3mo to sometimes a year before upping the rate. I then change electric providers before that special rate is done. I’ve been doing it for years and have saved a lot of money. I’ve recommended it to others but they don’t seem to want to be hassled with having to keep changing providers and or they have been burned by people who have called them or have stopped by there home offering them good deals on there electric and they get a good deal for awhile and after a few months they get a huge bill so there to worried to have that happen again. The tip is look for companies who don’t charge any fees to do things like cancel your contract and who have set rates that are not variable. I always put a reminder in phone when I need to shop for a new provider but they usually send me a letter in the mail letting me know when my introductory rate is up so it’s nice to get that also. Believe me it is so worth it. I went from around $350 in the summer to averaging $200 or sometimes even less.

    • H Anne

      YES! I agree with all of this. 🤗Thank you for reminding me my 3 months is almost up! I also live in PA and here are the websites I use for gas and electricity shopping:

      https://www.papowerswitch.com

      https://www.pagasswitch.com

      I keep a notepad with the suppliers name, phone number, and end date. That way I’m never caught at the end of the intro rate because sometimes when the intro/fixed rate expires, the rate goes insanely high. You also have to really watch those mailers that say they’ll give you $100 gift cards or credits for switching. The fine print to get that deal isn’t usually great.

      PPL also offers a recycling program for old fridges/dehumidifiers. They pay $$ to pickup your stuff. It’s been awhile but I think $35/item. You just have to show it’s near an outlet and no longer plugged in.

  7. eileenmccartybranham

    Central Fl here. We have 2 ACs, one upstairs, one down. 78 when not at home, 76 when We are, 75 at night. It’s perfectly comfortable but we have done all of the other things on the list(blackout curtains, fans, etc). Had a friend new to Fl who turned off her AC when she went out of town for extended period and came home to mold all over everything,

  8. Tombeamenderfer

    Why have air conditioning, if ur putting it at 78 no way it gets too hot an humid in York pa during the summer I would be dying 🤪

  9. Natalie

    I’m surprised trees weren’t mentioned in the article. Houses with large trees nearby stay much cooler without using AC as often. They can also block the wind and save on heat in the winter too.

    The most frugal way to save on heating and cooling is to buy the smallest possible house that suits your needs (surprised this wasn’t mentioned too). Having a 5000 square foot house that you cool to 78 is a lot more expensive than having a 1000 square feet house that you cool to 72. You get the benefit of less cleaning too.

    You could also relocate to a more comfortable climate. The high today is 53 where I live.

    • Lana

      We have 2.6 acres of mature trees and while they do keep our home cooler they are also a liability. We have to constantly be on the lookout for dead trees and large dead limbs that could fall and damage our home or outbuilding. We had a 100 year old oak die near the house and it cost $2500 to have it taken down. Would I give up my trees? Absolutely not but I would not consider them a money saver.

  10. Sarah

    Umm if it’s gotta be 78 why do I have an air conditioner in the first place hahaha
    It’s not even 78 in here with the air off

    We are in the midwest

  11. Michelle Murphey

    There is no chance in hell I’m keeping my house at 82 degrees in the summer. I’ll just pay the extra money!

  12. Bree

    These recommendations are crazy! Keeping a cool and comfortable home helps those with asthma, allergies, thyroid issues, women in their change of seasons or even a lady enjoying the regular monthly joys or hey a pregnancy… people get cranky, stinky and irritable if they are sweaty!! I’d much rather cut my costs elsewhere and stay sane and healthy. Apply for energy assistance if you qualify…offer a monetary gift if you think that’d help out a family member rather than something store bought…or you can do like our mother and she actually offers to help with a bill directly of your choosing for Christmas. This doesn’t sound like the most exciting gift, but struggling young families or even divorcees, maybe those pursing an education and not working as much can surely appreciate the gift of heating & cooling😁🌞

  13. BJMeadows

    The flaw in this is the more energy we save the more they allow the electric company to raise their rates to make up the difference. Appalachian Power has got 10% increases the last two years.

  14. Jo

    My daughter has health issues and when it’s warmer outside I need to keep it cooler in the house. We are on a plan that averages out our payment so we have the same bill even in the high of the summer season. It makes it nice for budgeting knowing your bill is the same and no surprises. I also have a medical discount for health condition for both our electric bill and our gas bill which helps also.

  15. nancy

    no way! we live in the desert and oh how I love my solar panels!! Best purchase we ever mde

  16. Jamie

    Imagine making yourself uncomfortable just to save 3% per degree you raise your ac.. No thanks.

  17. Roller Blinds Sydney

    Air-conditioner temperature set in summer have been discussed here . Things to be consider includes many options listed in this link .It is very useful article and would suggest others too. I am sure many people will come to read this in future.

  18. Teabag

    Comments show the usual. America at it’s finest. Consequences? Who cares! A single point difference is oft too much for a mere Millennial!

    Of course it depends on climate! Do you even know what an average is or how an average is calculated? Apparently not! Do they need to say “salt to taste”? Are you the type of people who blame the recipe for being too salty despite that?

    It’s also possible to acclimate yourself to higher temps by gradually increasing it a single degree at a time. You’d think more people would try this.

    Considering throughout history humans had to get by with as little as possible, and the long period of time where ACs didn’t exist, my god you people are whiny babies. I can’t sleep if it’s not 68! Can you imagine a world where life was a single degree higher? No?

    82’s apparently too high for a few snowflakes. It’s absurd. Millennials at their finest. What if it’s 82 outside temp, still too much?

    There’s also a difference between a hot 80 and a cool 80.
    Do we even need to address the science of heat vs cool? The point of the temperature and AC in general is to cool air. Literally in the name, people. Air CONDITIONER. A hot environment can negate the purpose of attempting to change the air’s condition based on temperature. Hot weather obviously is just that.

    The cooling we get is just an ice cube. The ice cube may last a while, but it’s never permanent.
    The house is just a cooler, an ice box. You’d think all this would mean something, huh?

    • Kevin

      Try that in south Georgia bud. 82 with high humidity requires you to sleep almost naked. Unless you’re skin and bones.

    • BCRS

      Get off your high horse, Teabag. You are the upset one here, and apparently you are discriminatory towards younger generations, which is disgusting and uncalled for! There is already too much hate in this world, and you really do not need to add to it because you have qualms about what temperature people keep their thermostat set at. A lot of people gave good, legitimate reasons for not following these guidelines that others may not think about, such as mold growing-a huge problem in the South and East Coast. Furthermore, since you have such a problem with Millennials and Gen-Zers, you better start blaming the generations that came before them, because they raised them! Lastly, do not forget that these generations are the ones left cleaning up the environmental, economic, and social messes from the previous generations. There is too much division already in this world and you only add to it with ridiculous comments-let’s remember we are all human and we are all flawed-regardless of age, gender, race, religion, etc. So let’s stop the finger pointing. Have a nice day.

    • p

      A Karen at it’s finest

  19. Kevin

    The problem with all of this is also that it costs more to lower the temperature from high to low. The AC unit works less if it’s set at a reasonable temp when you leave. If you turn it up when you leave, and then turn it down when you arrive, it can run consistently for hours to attempt to cool the area. Also, sleeping at 82 degrees is not possible in humid climates.

    I have to sleep at 82 because my roommates set it to that based on reading stupid articles like this. I have a fan blowing on my body and can’t even use a simple sheet or I will get hot. There are too many body types and varying climates for a “1 size fits all” solution.

    • Brittany

      Plus, you may see a small decrease in your bill, but not enough to make a difference. I know most electric companies I have had over the years eat the the bills up with fees that stay the same, regardless of usage.

  20. Matt96

    Nah, living in Georgia, there’s no way I would ever do this, my parents wouldn’t put the A/C on until it was around 80 even if the humidity was awful, I never got used to this and it also made it hard to sleep. Now that I’m on my own, it stays around 71-72 during the day in the summer and 69 F at night, I will flip it off when leaving the house for a long period of time, if I’m going to be gone for days, I will leave it on a setting (depending on the time of year, usually high 70’s though) so that it will run a decent amount to prevent mold though. I’d rather buy cheap food and clothes or even set my heater lower in the winter and wear a jacket to save money. Also a ceiling fan doesn’t make the room comfortable if the humidity is extremely high and it frequently is in my area and unless it’s a heatwave, the A/C won’t run enough to lower the humidity well with it on 78 and a dehumidifier would also use energy and create heat so might as well just use the A/C.

    • paige

      I feel so validated. Thank you. Please speak to my mother. I live in North Florida, it’s 82° inside & 88% humidity. The only hope I have to convince my mom to turn on the air (just to 77°) is if there are tears in my eyes and I offer to pay the bill

  21. Debbie Slone

    I can’t believe you are telling people what to set the air conditioning temperature! I can’t even handle 75 degrees.

  22. Katie

    I’m one of those people who is cold in a 70 degree house. I keep sweaters in my car to combat the air conditioning in most places.
    But even I can’t sleep comfortably at 82 degrees. Not even me, the freezing girl who wears sweaters in the summer in Las Vegas. That’s a sheet soaking temperature, especially with menopause knocking on my door.
    Plus I’ve learned from my air conditioner breaking that bugs and spiders will flood into the house here if the temperature inside gets to be what it is outside during the summer. We got chased around the living room by a very large, very aggressive spider. So no thank you. If that needed to be my daily life due to some energy crisis, I’d have to move away.
    I accept that I live in a desert where people aren’t really supposed to live and I need air conditioning to survive here. I know that makes me a pathetic millennial snowflake even though I’m gen x but I’m at peace with that. I don’t live here for the weather, I just deal with it the best I can. LOL

  23. Taylor

    This is ridiculous. Obviously the less you use your a/c, the less your electric bill. If you go from 72 to 75 it will decrease, if you go up to 78 it will decrease…. why not take it all the way to 95 to see your bill virtually eliminated??

  24. Workaholic

    Lol. This post is not popular at all. Most ppl disagree with choosing to save money over comfort. I don’t understand why it keeps getting recycled. How about listening to the community’s feedback?

    • Chantel

      Hip2save keeps recycling the post because they get paid to. It is an ad. Many of the posts here are ads disguised as deals now. It used to be that readers could email them about deals they had found and it would be verified and posted. That pretty much ended a few years ago. Now most posts are sponsored. I don’t hate, there is a whole team of people who rely on running this site for their income, just be aware that many of the “deals” now aren’t really about saving you money and neither is the site now.

      • Amber (Hip Sidekick)

        Hi there! This air conditioner post does not make us money. It’s just a fun post to share so our community can discuss their thoughts and offer any tips on how to save on their electric bill.

  25. anika2

    I bought an Ecobee thermostat 4 years ago and absolutely love it. I need another one now and I’m going to get the same thing. Anyone know of any sales on Ecobee?

  26. IB

    78 degrees? No thanks….I choose not to sweat in my own home. Most ridiculous story I’ve seen in a while.

  27. NV2007

    The crabby patties on here complaining about this post really don’t have to bother commenting at all, really. We keep our home at 66 all year long which is a compromise in the winter (cooler) and luxury in the summer (cooler). But I appreciate the fact that H2S is trying to show folks how to find comfort in warmer temps in the summer and lower their energy bills as well. We’re not “millenials” like teabag stated, we just work our rears off like many others do and we prefer to enjoy some of the finer luxuries of central air in the high humidity/heat of summer. But I surely grew up without A/C and knowing how to keep things cooler amid higher temps is great!

  28. allyson

    That’s hard no from me. The south summers, and hot flashes do not work well with 78° ac temps.

    • Laura

      When you are hitting that point of your life, ac is just reward for dealing with everything up until then.

  29. Lisa

    Attic insulation is a huge help, and does not cost much.

  30. Laura

    I have a system that has transponders in the master bedroom, basement and laundry room. Since my husband sleeps at night it is imperative that the master bedroom stays cooler on his work days. Quality of sleep is worth more than $75 a month.

    However at night when he’s not home, the kids and I sleep with it slight warmer than we used to. I start low when the heat first starts but creep the thermostat up a degree every few days as we adjust to the summer. The same goes for the winter. We start out warm on the thermostats but gradually creep it down as winter goes along.

    • Lisa

      Yes, small changes during seasonal changes help our bodies adjust more naturally!

  31. Nikki

    We live in Southern Cali and it gets HOT here. Summers are well over 100 most days. My husband has always wanted the temp to be at 78, I have talked him down to 76 and Im okay with that. I used to have my cooler on all the time set at 70. It took some adjusting but after 10 years, I’m kinda used to it now. Point being, you can adjust if you really wanted to.

  32. David

    Wow! We don’t turn on the AC unless it’s over 90 and humid. Even then, our small window units don’t get the house below 80. Comfortable and reasonable.

  33. kevin-3

    70-71 and 68 when sleeping! Hell with saving money when it comes to the heat! Here in Mississippi heat is no joke!! I’ll save elsewhere

  34. Pinkrazrbrd

    In Arkansas keep ours at 68 in summer and 70 in winter I hate being hot and uncomfortable electric runs about 200 in summer and 100 in winter

  35. cooper

    I’m in New York. 78 is retard. What is the point in having the AC on to begin with???? At that temp the fan will be running all the time. This is like having the heat on 55 during the winter.

  36. Cynthia Williams

    Man I can’t beleive how many people still don’t get it. Its about the earth climate change drought severe weather forest fires. We the collective we must change how we live. We might have 5 years till we reach the tipping point and there is no reversing climate change. Get a grip people, stop watching FNC and Newsmax and wake up.!

    • Angie

      Are they KIDDING? They expect people to sit in a house that’s at 82 degrees. What foolish Special Interest group came up with that?

      In the 60’s, I grew up in the humid New England summers with only fans for cooling. They offer very little comfort for an entire house (you need to sit right on top of them for any relief). Our home was hot, humid, sweaty, and so uncomfortable. It wasn’t until the early 70’s my dad was able to afford a huge A/C window unit. It was a monster of a unit & such a blessing.

      No. Sorry, environmental police, I will not be going back to those days. I’ll keep my house at whatever temperature suits me and I’m not bothered whatsoever for paying extra $$ for comfort.

      What’s next? Put our cars up on blocks & saddle up the horse? Should we throw out our washing machines for an efficient washboard? We just never know what unrealistic changes they will be preaching to us in the near future.

  37. Russell

    78 degrees is a joke might as well use a fan, 78 degrees is hot to me, if the window unit can’t get it down to 60-62 degrees, it’s junk, I need it cool, in the winter I almost can heat the room from body heat, depends how cool out side. Climate change is big lie, no one can prove it , but still believe it, just another means to control your thinking. These are the last days when so many false belief systems are starting and misleading so many. Hell is a long time to be wrong. Don’t go there, there is no ac.

  38. Vegas Devil

    76-78 degrees in Las Vegas.

  39. Angie

    Are they KIDDING? They expect people to sit in a house that’s at 82 degrees. What foolish Special Interest group came up with that?

    In the 60’s, I grew up in the humid New England summers with only fans for cooling. They offer very little comfort for an entire house (you need to sit right on top of them for any relief). Our home was hot, humid, sweaty, and so uncomfortable. It wasn’t until the early 70’s my dad was able to afford a huge A/C window unit. It was a monster of a unit & such a blessing.

    No. Sorry, environmental police, I will not be going back to those days. I’ll keep my house at whatever temperature suits me and I’m not bothered whatsoever for paying extra $$ for comfort.

    What’s next? Put our cars up on blocks & saddle up the horse? Should we throw out our washing machines for an efficient washboard? We just never know what unrealistic changes they will be preaching to us in the near future. W

    .

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