You have likely heard that putting in a programmable thermostat can lower your heating and cooling costs. While this is indeed true, you don’t immediately save just by replacing your old manual thermostat for a programmable one. To maximize your savings, you must select, set up and use a programmable thermostat effectively.
As reported 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 set back the temperature 7 to 10 degrees from its normal setting for eight hours each day. For the everyday home, this amounts to close to $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, check the compatibility with the rest of your HVAC system. For instance, radiant floor heating may require a different type of thermostat than one created for forced-air heating and cooling.
Then, assess the scheduling controls. Most programmable thermostats have four daily programs—Wake, Leave, Home and Sleep, or something similar. Different models offer dynamic levels of control all through the week. Here are the four primary options:
- 7-day programming allows a different schedule on a daily basis. This is best if your family’s schedule fluctuates regularly.
- 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 distinct on Saturday and Sunday.
- 5-2 programming lets you set separate weekday and weekend schedules.
- 1-week programming follows one schedule for the whole week.
How to Set Up a Programmable Thermostat
The ability to schedule setback periods while you're gone or sleeping makes it easier 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 are best for your family’s preferences, here’s how an ordinary 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 recommends 68 degrees in the winter and 78 degrees during the summer.
- Leave at 8:00 am: Program the thermostat to adjust the temperature back 10 degrees around 30 minutes before heading into work. This setting should be approximately 58 degrees in the winter and 88 degrees over the summer.
- Home at 5:30 pm: The automatic recovery function provides a comfortable temperature before you return home. 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 about 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 aspect of a programmable thermostat is that you can save energy without losing comfort. Check out these tips to get the most from your upgrade:
- Don't override programmed settings: You can always override the current temperature if you feel uncomfortable. However, your energy usage will increase if you regularly change the settings. Put on 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 can create temporary overrides without deleting the active setting. This is referred to as a “temporary hold,” which only lasts 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 disable the hold.
- Don’t make steep temperature changes: When you must override a setting, change the thermostat by just 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 need batteries to prevent the settings from being deleted after a power outage. Make a habit of checking 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 prefer to set it and forget it, turn to Epperson 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 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 call your local Epperson Service Experts office today.