You have probably heard that having a programmable thermostat can lower your heating and cooling costs. While this is genuinely true, you don’t automatically save just by swapping out your old manual thermostat for a programmable one. To make the most of 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 with the help of a programmable thermostat to automatically change the temperature 7 to 10 degrees from its normal setting for eight hours every day. For the average home, this amounts to close to $180 per year. Follow these programmable thermostat tips to save the most on your heating and cooling costs.
How to Shop for a Programmable Thermostat
As you compare thermostats, check the compatibility with your other equipment. As an example, radiant floor heating might necessitate a different type of thermostat than one developed for forced-air heating and cooling.
Then, evaluate the scheduling options. Most programmable thermostats have four daily programs—Wake, Leave, Home and Sleep, or something similar. Separate models offer varying levels of control during the week. Here are the four main options:
- 7-day programming allows a different schedule every day. This is best if your family’s schedule changes consistently.
- 5-1-1 programming generates 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 set up setback periods while you’re away 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 work best for your family’s preferences, here’s how the average weekday schedule might work:
- Wake at 7:00 am: The thermostat reaches a comfortable temperature in time for you to get out of bed. The DOE recommends 68 degrees in the winter and 78 degrees for the summer.
- Leave at 8:00 am: Instruct the thermostat to set the temperature back 10 degrees around 30 minutes before leaving for work. This setting should be approximately 58 degrees during the winter and 88 degrees in the summer.
- Home at 5:30 pm: The automatic recovery period ensures a comfortable temperature before you are home for the day. This setting should be about 68 degrees in the winter and 78 degrees in 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 during the summer.
Getting Maximum Savings from a Programmable Thermostat
The best part about a programmable thermostat is that you can save energy without losing out on comfort. Follow these tips to get the most from your upgrade:
- Avoid overriding programmed settings: You can always override the current temperature if you feel uncomfortable. Although, your energy usage will go up if you consistently change the settings. Put on an extra layer in the winter or turn on a fan in the summer before touching the thermostat.
- Use the correct hold feature: All programmable thermostats enable temporary overrides without deleting the current setting. This is called the “temporary hold,” which only continues until the next programmed time. The "permanent/vacation hold” is for when you leave town. This overrides the settings indefinitely. The thermostat won’t return to your regular schedule until you personally remove the hold.
- Don’t make drastic temperature changes: When you must override a setting, change the thermostat by only a degree or two. You should feel more comfortable after making this minor adjustment while preventing 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 during 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 return to school in the fall.
Start Saving by Installing a Programmable Thermostat
If you’re ready to set it and forget it, turn to Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning for help finding and installing a programmable thermostat. We can also provide details about Wi-Fi programmable thermostats, which come 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 Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning office today.