You have most likely heard that installing a programmable thermostat can bring down your heating and cooling costs. While this is indeed true, you don’t immediately save just by swapping out your old manual thermostat for a programmable one. To optimize your savings, you should select, set up and use a programmable thermostat effectively.
As stated by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), homeowners can save up to 10% on heating and cooling costs with the help of a programmable thermostat to automatically adjust the temperature 7 to 10 degrees from its normal setting for eight hours every day. For the ordinary home, this amounts to close to $180 per year. Try these programmable thermostat tips to save the most on your heating and cooling bills.
How to Shop for a Programmable Thermostat
As you look at different thermostats, check the compatibility with your other equipment. For instance, radiant floor heating might call for a different type of thermostat than one designed for forced-air heating and cooling.
Then, examine the scheduling options. Most programmable thermostats have four daily programs—Wake, Leave, Home and Sleep, or something close. Separate models offer varied levels of control throughout the week. Here are the four main options:
- 7-day programming provides a different schedule on a daily basis. This is best if your family’s schedule fluctuates daily.
- 5-1-1 programming creates a weekday schedule and separate Saturday/Sunday schedules. This is good if your routine is consistent Monday through Friday but different on Saturday and Sunday.
- 5-2 programming lets you set separate weekday and weekend schedules.
- 1-week programming creates one schedule for the whole week.
How to Set Up a Programmable Thermostat
The capability to schedule setback periods while you're out of the house or sleeping makes it simpler to save energy with a programmable thermostat. Finalize the settings you want at the beginning of the season. While you can select the times and temperatures that are best for your family’s preferences, here’s how the average weekday schedule might work:
- Wake at 7:00 am: The thermostat achieves a comfortable temperature in time for you to get out of bed. The DOE suggests 68 degrees in the winter and 78 degrees for the summer.
- Leave at 8:00 am: Program the thermostat to adjust the temperature back 10 degrees about 30 minutes before leaving for work. This setting should be about 58 degrees during 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 approximately 68 degrees in the winter and 78 degrees during the summer.
- Sleep at 10:30 pm: Program the thermostat to the nighttime temperature around 30 minutes before bed. This nighttime setting should be around 65 degrees in the winter and 80 degrees through the summer.
Getting Maximum Savings from a Programmable Thermostat
The best benefit of a programmable thermostat is that you can save energy without losing comfort. Try these tips to get the most from your upgrade:
- Try not to override programmed settings: You can always override the current temperature if you feel uncomfortable. Although, your energy usage will increase if you regularly change the settings. Add an extra layer in the winter or use a fan in the summer before touching the thermostat.
- Use the correct hold feature: All programmable thermostats allow temporary overrides without deleting the existing setting. This is referred to as a “temporary hold,” which only continues 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 return to your regular schedule until you manually clear the hold.
- Don’t make drastic temperature changes: When you must override a setting, adjust the thermostat by only a degree or two. You should feel more comfortable after making this slight adjustment while avoiding the energy waste of turning the temperature way up or down.
- Change the batteries: Most programmable thermostats run on batteries to prevent the settings from being deleted after a power outage. Make a habit of replacing the batteries annually at a time you can easily remember, such as the new year or when the kids go back to school in the fall.
Start Saving by Installing a Programmable Thermostat
If you’re ready to set it and forget it, call Barlow Service Experts for help choosing and installing a programmable thermostat. We can also tell you about Wi-Fi programmable thermostats, which come with 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 Barlow Service Experts office today.