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 immediately save just by replacing 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 effectively.
According to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), homeowners could save up to 10% on heating and cooling costs by using a programmable thermostat to routinely change the temperature 7 to 10 degrees from its normal setting for eight hours each day. For the ordinary home, this amounts to close to $180 per year. Follow these programmable thermostat tips to save the most on your heating and cooling bills.
How to Shop for a Programmable Thermostat
As you look at different thermostats, verify the compatibility with your other equipment. For example, radiant floor heating may require a different type of thermostat than one developed for forced-air heating and cooling.
Then, examine the scheduling controls. Most programmable thermostats have four daily programs—Wake, Leave, Home and Sleep, or something close. Various models offer dynamic levels of control all through the week. Here are the four main options:
- 7-day programming allows for a different schedule each day. This is best if your family’s schedule varies regularly.
- 5-1-1 programming offers a weekday schedule and separate Saturday/Sunday schedules. This is best if your routine is 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 creates 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 gone or sleeping makes it simpler to save energy with a programmable thermostat. Finalize the settings you prefer at the beginning of the season. While you can determine the times and temperatures that work best for your family’s needs, here’s how an ordinary weekday schedule might look:
- Wake at 7:00 am: The thermostat reaches a comfortable temperature in time for you to wake up. The DOE suggests 68 degrees in the winter and 78 degrees in the summer.
- Leave at 8:00 am: Program the thermostat to adjust the temperature back 10 degrees around 30 minutes before leaving for work. This setting should be approximately 58 degrees in the winter and 88 degrees in the summer.
- Home at 5:30 pm: The automatic recovery period provides a comfortable temperature before you get home from work. This setting should be around 68 degrees in the winter and 78 degrees during the summer.
- Sleep at 10:30 pm: Program the thermostat to the nighttime temperature about 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 benefit of a programmable thermostat is that you can save energy without losing comfort. Try these tips to get the most from your upgrade:
- Try not to override programmed settings: You can always override the set temperature if you are uncomfortable. Although, your energy usage will increase if you consistently change the settings. Add an extra layer in the winter or turn on 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 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 go back to your regular schedule until you personally remove 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 slight adjustment while preventing the energy waste of adjusting the temperature way up or down.
- Replace the batteries: Most programmable thermostats run on batteries to prevent the settings from being deleted during a power outage. Make a habit of checking 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’re ready to set it and forget it, call Parker Pearce Service Experts for help selecting and installing a programmable thermostat. We can also tell you 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 Parker Pearce Service Experts office today.