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Ask Marilyn: When to Turn Off the Air Conditioner
Jaco van der Colff of Woodland Hills, California, writes:
Marilyn: I think your answer about leaving your air conditioner on makes sense when taking comfort into account, but if cost is the only issue, as when going on vacation, surely it makes more sense to turn it off. (August 5, 2012) If left on, the unit has to continually remove heat, while if turned off the heat can build only so much.
Actually, my answer took only cost (not comfort) into consideration, but it was directed at ordinary day-to-day activity, such as going to work. Heat and humidity conditions differ from place to place, of course, but in general, my answer would be the same even if you're going away for a couple of days.
Heat can build up more than you might think, and the air temperature inside your house isn't the only factor. With time, heat accumulates in furniture, carpeting, walls, and more.