You have likely heard that installing a programmable thermostat can lower your heating and cooling costs. While this is indeed true, you don’t immediately save just by swapping out your old manual thermostat for a programmable one. To maximize your savings, you should select, set up and use a programmable thermostat properly.
According to 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 consistently set back the temperature 7 to 10 degrees from its normal setting for eight hours each day. For the everyday home, this amounts to about $180 per year. Try these programmable thermostat tips to save the most on your heating and cooling bill.
How to Shop for a Programmable Thermostat
As you look at different thermostats, confirm the compatibility with your other equipment. As an example, radiant floor heating might call for 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. Various models offer varying levels of control all through the week. Here are the four main options:
- 7-day programming allows a different schedule on a daily basis. This is perfect if your family’s schedule fluctuates daily.
- 5-1-1 programming creates a weekday schedule and separate Saturday/Sunday schedules. This is best 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 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. Establish the settings you want at the start of the season. While you can select the times and temperatures that are ideal for your family’s preferences, here’s how a typical 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 suggests 68 degrees in the winter and 78 degrees for the summer.
- Leave at 8:00 am: Program the thermostat to adjust the temperature back 10 degrees about 30 minutes before heading into work. This setting should be approximately 58 degrees during the winter and 88 degrees over 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 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 about 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 losing comfort. Follow these tips to get the most from your upgrade:
- Don't override programmed settings: You can always override the set temperature if you are really uncomfortable. That said, your energy usage will go up 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 allow temporary overrides without deleting the current setting. This is referred to as a “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, change the thermostat by just a degree or two. You should feel more comfortable after making this small adjustment while avoiding the energy waste of adjusting the temperature way up or down.
- Change the batteries: Most programmable thermostats need batteries to stop the settings from being deleted after a power outage. Make a habit of replacing 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 want to set it and forget it, choose 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.