Compared to many other parts of the country, our fall weather in Florida can be a mixed bag. On the same autumn day, you might be sweating at lunchtime and then by nightfall wrapping yourself up in a blanket burrito-style for warmth. With these fluctuating temperatures, keeping your home comfortable seems to require switching back and forth between using your air conditioner and your heater--but is doing this bad for your HVAC system?
Have no fear: it’s perfectly fine to switch back and forth between your AC and heater, even on the same day. However, there is a right way and a wrong way to make this switch. Below are some things to consider.
SWITCHING BETWEEN YOUR AIR CONDITIONING AND HEATER
While you want to keep your home at a comfortable temperature, it’s essential that you don’t do anything that will drastically increase your energy bill or put your HVAC system through unnecessary wear and tear.
Set the Thermostat to “Auto”
First, make sure your HVAC system’s thermostat is set to “auto” so that it will automatically shut off when your home has reached the thermostat’s designated temperature. If the thermostat is set to “on,” the unit will just keep running. To increase your energy savings, the Department of Energy recommends the following temperature settings:
- For winter: 68°F while you're awake and lower while you're asleep or away from home.
- For summer: 78°F when you are at home and higher while you’re away.
Let the System Complete Its Current Cycle
Second, if you want to switch from your cooling system to your heating system (or the opposite), never do it while the unit is running. Wait until the cycle finishes. Then switch the thermostat to “off.” Wait for at least five minutes before turning your other system on.
Warm or Cool Your Home Gradually
The more of a temperature fluctuation your system needs to overcome, the more energy it’s going to use. This is why it’s best to keep your home temperature as consistent as possible, though it’s not always easy. When switching from heating to cooling or vice versa, start by adjusting your thermostat by only a few degrees. Allowing your home to warm up or cool down gradually puts a lot less strain on your HVAC system.