You have likely heard that putting in a programmable thermostat can reduce your heating and cooling costs. While this is certainly true, you don’t automatically save just by replacing 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.
As stated by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), homeowners could save up to 10% on heating and cooling costs by using a programmable thermostat to automatically adjust the temperature 7 to 10 degrees from its normal setting for eight hours every day. For the average home, this amounts to around $180 per year. Follow 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, verify the compatibility with your other equipment. For instance, radiant floor heating can necessitate a different type of thermostat than one created for forced-air heating and cooling.
Then, examine the scheduling controls. Most programmable thermostats have four daily programs—Wake, Leave, Home and Sleep, or something comparable. Various models offer varied levels of control throughout the week. Here are the four main options:
- 7-day programming allows a different schedule each day. This is perfect if your family’s schedule varies daily.
- 5-1-1 programming creates a weekday schedule and separate Saturday/Sunday schedules. This is best 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 every day of the week.
How to Set Up a Programmable Thermostat
The ability to program setback periods while you’re away or sleeping makes it easier to save energy with a programmable thermostat. Finalize the settings you prefer at the beginning of the season. While you can determine the times and temperatures that are ideal for your family’s preferences, here’s how a typical weekday schedule might look:
- Wake at 7:00 am: The thermostat provides a comfortable temperature in time for you to get out of bed. The DOE recommends 68 degrees in the winter and 78 degrees in the summer.
- Leave at 8:00 am: Instruct the thermostat to set the temperature back 10 degrees about 30 minutes before going to work. This setting should be around 58 degrees during the winter and 88 degrees for the summer.
- Home at 5:30 pm: The automatic recovery function resumes 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 for 30 minutes before bed. This nighttime setting should be set to 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 sacrificing comfort. Try these tips to get the most from your upgrade:
- Don't override programmed settings: You can always override the current temperature if you are really uncomfortable. However, your energy usage will increase if you consistently 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 can create temporary overrides without deleting the active setting. This is called the “temporary hold,” which only persists until the next programmed time. The "permanent/vacation hold” is for when you are out of town. This overrides the settings indefinitely. The thermostat won’t return to your regular schedule until you personally clear the hold.
- Don’t make drastic 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 minor adjustment while avoiding the energy waste of adjusting the temperature way up or down.
- Replace the batteries: Most programmable thermostats need batteries to stop the settings from being deleted after a power outage. Make a habit of checking the batteries once a year at a time you can easily remember, like the new year or when the kids go back to school in the fall.
Start Saving by Installing a Programmable Thermostat
If you prefer to set it and forget it, call R & M Climate Control Service Experts for help finding and installing a programmable thermostat. We can also tell you about Wi-Fi programmable thermostats, which are designed with even more benefits thanks to remote temperature control, learning capabilities, motion sensors, auto-generated energy reports and more. For more information or to request a free thermostat assessment, please contact your local R & M Climate Control Service Experts office today.