Air conditioners are to cool people not homes. Shut it off when there is no one there to enjoy it.
Heat always moves toward cooler temperatures. The cooler your house is the more heat will push its way in. With the air conditioner off, the house will warm up and the flow of incoming heat will slow down. It is self-limiting.
If you leave the AC on and keep the house cool, heat will keep flowing in. This keeps the AC working hard to keep the temperature down and make the electric meter spin faster.
But, I hate returning to a hot house. This is where a timer really pays for itself. Set the program feature of your digital thermostat to switch the central air conditioning on 43 minutes before your return.
43 minutes may not be right for your house and weather. Fuss with the time until it is about right and then find something else to play with.
If you have a window air conditioner, you can do the same thing with a low cost appliance timer. An inexpensive timer will let you turn the AC on an off automatically.
Timers that are a little more expensive will control your window AC for a week. Look for a timer that can connect with a three-pronged grounded plug and has a rating of at least 15 amps.
As an example: Set the time to switch off 57 minutes before you leave for work and to switch on 43 minutes before you get home. If the outdoors cools down below 75 at night, you can set the timer to shut the AC fan off in the wee small hours of the morning while you are asleep.
Keep your windows shut tight to keep the humidity out while you are away.
Close the blinds or curtains on the sunny side of the house to keep the solar heating to a minimum.
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