You have likely heard that putting in a programmable thermostat can reduce your heating and cooling costs. While this is indeed 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 should select, set up and use a programmable thermostat properly.
As reported by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), homeowners could save up to 10% on heating and cooling costs if you use a programmable thermostat to routinely change 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 Find a Programmable Thermostat
As you look at different thermostats, confirm the compatibility with your HVAC system. For example, radiant floor heating might require a different type of thermostat than one designed for forced-air heating and cooling.
Then, evaluate the scheduling controls. Most programmable thermostats have four daily programs—Wake, Leave, Home and Sleep, or something similar. Different models offer varied levels of control during the week. Here are the four primary options:
- 7-day programming provides a different schedule on a daily basis. This is ideal if your family’s schedule varies daily.
- 5-1-1 programming offers 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 capability 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 prefer at the start of the season. While you can select the times and temperatures that work best 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 get out of bed. The DOE suggests 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 heading into work. This setting should be about 58 degrees during the winter and 88 degrees over the summer.
- Home at 5:30 pm: The automatic recovery period resumes a comfortable temperature before you return home. This setting should be about 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 during the summer.
Getting Maximum Savings from a Programmable Thermostat
The best benefit of a programmable thermostat is that you can save energy without losing out on comfort. Try these tips to get the most from your upgrade:
- Don't override programmed settings: You can always override the set temperature if you feel uncomfortable. That said, your energy usage will increase if you constantly change the settings. Add an extra layer in the winter or grab a fan in the summer before adjusting 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 lasts 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 manually 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 minor adjustment while avoiding the energy waste of cranking the temperature way up or down.
- Change the batteries: Most programmable thermostats use batteries to stop the settings from being deleted because of a power outage. Make a habit of checking the batteries annually 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, turn to 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 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.