You have probably heard that having a programmable thermostat can lower your heating and cooling costs. While this is indeed true, you don’t instantly save just by replacing your old manual thermostat for a programmable one. To optimize your savings, you should select, set up and use a programmable thermostat to the fullest.
As stated by 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 change the temperature 7 to 10 degrees from its normal setting for eight hours each day. For the ordinary home, this amounts to about $180 per year. Check out these programmable thermostat tips to save the most on your heating and cooling bills.
How to Shop for a Programmable Thermostat
As you compare thermostats, verify the compatibility with the rest of your HVAC system. As an example, radiant floor heating may necessitate a different type of thermostat than one created for forced-air heating and cooling.
Then, assess the scheduling options. 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 main options:
- 7-day programming provides a different schedule each day. This is best if your family’s schedule varies consistently.
- 5-1-1 programming generates a weekday schedule and separate Saturday/Sunday schedules. This is better if your routine is consistent Monday through Friday but unique on Saturday and Sunday.
- 5-2 programming lets you set separate weekday and weekend schedules.
- 1-week programming follows one schedule for every day of the week.
How to Set Up a Programmable Thermostat
The ability to program setback periods while you're gone or sleeping makes it easier to save energy with a programmable thermostat. Create the settings you prefer at the start of the season. While you can determine the times and temperatures that are ideal for your family’s needs, 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 around 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 schedule ensures a comfortable temperature before you are home for the day. This setting should be approximately 68 degrees in the winter and 78 degrees in the summer.
- Sleep at 10:30 pm: Program the thermostat to the nighttime temperature about 30 minutes before bed. This nighttime setting should be about 65 degrees in the winter and 80 degrees through 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. Try these tips to get the most from your upgrade:
- Avoid overriding programmed settings: You can always override the set temperature if you are uncomfortable. However, your energy usage will increase if you regularly change the settings. Don an extra layer in the winter or use a fan in the summer before adjusting the thermostat.
- Use the correct hold feature: All programmable thermostats allow temporary overrides without deleting the existing setting. This is known as 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 go back to your regular schedule until you manually disable the hold.
- Don’t make steep 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 minor adjustment while preventing the energy waste of cranking the temperature way up or down.
- Change the batteries: Most programmable thermostats use batteries to prevent the settings from being deleted during a power outage. Make a habit of changing the batteries yearly at a time you can easily remember, such as the new year or when the kids return to school in the fall.
Start Saving by Installing a Programmable Thermostat
If you want to set it and forget it, choose Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning for help finding and installing a programmable thermostat. We can also share more info about Wi-Fi programmable thermostats, which are designed with even more benefits like remote temperature control, learning capabilities, motion sensors, auto-generated energy reports and more. For more details or to request a free thermostat assessment, please contact your local Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning office today.