What's the best thermostat setting for summer?

For optimum comfort and savings, thermostats should be set to 78 degrees in the summer months, advises the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). Bump that number up to 85 degrees when you’re at work or vacationing and 82 degrees when sleeping.

If shifting your thermostat to 78 degrees is a major change, start with small increases of just one or two degrees at a time. For example, if your thermostat is typically set to 73 degrees, adjust it to 74 or 75 degrees for a few days before inching it up another couple of degrees.

Installing a programmable thermostat will help you maintain comfort while saving energy and money each month. Use the device to automatically increase the temperature when you leave for work and lower it to your desired setting before you return home.

Avoid setting the thermostat any higher than 90 degrees to protect temperature-sensitive appliances, like your refrigerator. If you have pets in the home, keep in mind birds and many small mammals can’t tolerate indoor temperatures higher than 85 degrees. Dogs shouldn’t be in indoor temperatures higher than 82 degrees.

These small adjustments are worth it. The DOE estimates you’ll save up to 3 percent on cooling costs for each degree above 72 you increase your indoor temperature.