You have most likely heard that having a programmable thermostat can reduce your heating and cooling costs. While this is certainly true, you don’t automatically save just by exchanging your old manual thermostat for a programmable one. To optimize your savings, you must select, set up and use a programmable thermostat to the fullest.
According to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), homeowners can save up to 10% on heating and cooling costs by using a programmable thermostat to consistently adjust the temperature 7 to 10 degrees from its normal setting for eight hours every day. For the everyday home, this amounts to about $180 per year. Check out these programmable thermostat tips to save the most on your heating and cooling bill.
How to Shop for a Programmable Thermostat
As you compare thermostats, verify the compatibility with your HVAC system. For example, radiant floor heating might require a different type of thermostat than one developed for forced-air heating and cooling.
Then, examine the scheduling functionality. Most programmable thermostats have four daily programs—Wake, Leave, Home and Sleep, or something similar. Separate models offer dynamic levels of control during the week. Here are the four principal options:
- 7-day programming provides a different schedule each day. This is ideal if your family’s schedule changes daily.
- 5-1-1 programming creates a weekday schedule and separate Saturday/Sunday schedules. This is good if your routine is about the same Monday through Friday but different on Saturday and Sunday.
- 5-2 programming lets you set separate weekday and weekend schedules.
- 1-week programming sticks to one schedule for the whole week.
How to Set Up a Programmable Thermostat
The ability to program setback periods while you're out of the house or sleeping makes it easy to save energy with a programmable thermostat. Establish the settings you want at the beginning of the season. While you can choose the times and temperatures that are ideal for your family’s needs, here’s how the average weekday schedule might look:
- Wake at 7:00 am: The thermostat achieves a comfortable temperature in time for you to start your day. The DOE suggests 68 degrees in the winter and 78 degrees during the summer.
- Leave at 8:00 am: Program the thermostat to adjust the temperature back 10 degrees around 30 minutes before heading into work. This setting should be about 58 degrees in the winter and 88 degrees in the summer.
- Home at 5:30 pm: The automatic recovery function provides a comfortable temperature before you get home from work. This setting should be around 68 degrees in the winter and 78 degrees during the summer.
- Sleep at 10:30 pm: Program the thermostat to the nighttime temperature about 30 minutes before bed. This nighttime setting should be around 65 degrees in the winter and 80 degrees in the summer.
Getting Maximum Savings from a Programmable Thermostat
The best benefit of a programmable thermostat is that you can save energy without sacrificing comfort. Follow these tips to get the most from your upgrade:
- Don't override programmed settings: You can always override the current temperature if you feel uncomfortable. Although, your energy usage will go up if you regularly change the settings. Add an extra layer in the winter or grab a fan in the summer before changing the thermostat.
- Use the correct hold feature: All programmable thermostats allow temporary overrides without deleting the current setting. This is known as the “temporary hold,” which only lasts until the next programmed time. The "permanent/vacation hold” is for when you leave for longer periods. This overrides the settings indefinitely. The thermostat won’t go back to your regular schedule until you personally clear the hold.
- Don’t make steep temperature changes: When you must override a setting, adjust the thermostat by just a degree or two. You should feel more comfortable after making this small adjustment while avoiding the energy waste of adjusting the temperature way up or down.
- Replace the batteries: Most programmable thermostats use batteries to prevent the settings from being deleted after a power outage. Make a habit of changing the batteries annually at a time you can easily remember, like the new year or when the kids head off to school in the fall.
Start Saving by Installing a Programmable Thermostat
If you want to set it and forget it, call Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning for help choosing and installing a programmable thermostat. We can also tell you about Wi-Fi programmable thermostats, which offer even more benefits such as remote temperature control, learning capabilities, motion sensors, auto-generated energy reports and more. For more details or to request a free thermostat assessment, please call your local Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning office today.