Programmable Thermostat: Three Ways to Save Energy With Your Programmable Thermostat
Today more and more Americans are opting to replace their regular thermostats with smart thermostats: new technology that learns your home heating routines and factors in environmental changes in order to manage your home’s energy usage automatically. Unfortunately, this fancy new technology also comes with a price tag. So what about the rest of us who don’t want to spend the money to upgrade our thermostats, at least not yet? Today we’ll be looking at strategies homeowners can use with their programmable thermostat to make sure that they’re getting the maximum effect out of their heating systems for the minimum cost. With home heating and cooling comprising up to 42% of a homeowner’s energy costs, this is an area where there is a lot of money to be saved!
- Turn down your heating or AC when you aren’t home – The largest way to save money on your home heating costs is also the simplest: reduce the level of your heating or air conditioning when you aren’t home to benefit from it. Smart thermostats are programmed to do this for you, but you can get the same benefits by adjusting the temperature manually. When you leave in the morning for work (or for longer periods such as weekend trips or vacations) adjust your thermostat to more closely match the natural temperatures outside. In the summer this means letting your house warm up to around 80 degrees, and as we approach winter and cooler temperatures you can let this number drop. Many homeowners will set their thermostats as low as 50 degrees during the winter months when they are out of the house, at that temperature your water pipes won’t freeze. Over the course of 8 hours, each degree closer to the outside temperature that you set your thermostat can save 1% on your energy usage; dropping the temperature from 68 to 50 degrees while you are at work can cut your heating bill by close to 20% during that period! While many people think that the temperature swings this strategy uses will end up using more energy in the long run than keeping their home at a constant temperature: that simply isn’t true. The amount of extra energy needed to heat up or cool down a house is minimal compared to the savings that you’ll see by not keeping your home at a comfortable temperature when you’re away or asleep.
- Use less heat overnight – Workdays and vacations aren’t the only opportunities to reduce your home heating. Another time to save money by lessening your heating is when you are asleep. Just put on another blanket instead of keeping the house that extra 10 degrees warmer. If this seems like a lot of temperature yo-yoing to keep track of, don’t worry. Most thermostats today are programmable, even if they’re not “smart.” They can be set to remember your basic schedule (leave for work at 7:30 AM, in bed around 11 PM, etc.) so that you don’t have to remember to change it every time you leave the house. If waking up or coming home to a comfortable temperature is important to you, just set your thermostat to increase the heating/AC a few minutes before you arrive.
- Try local heating and AC – One of the best options is to forgo using your thermostat at all. Many Americans spend the majority of their time in one small portion or room of their house, so why spend large amounts of money to keep the whole thing warm or cool? If you know that you’ll be in the office for the rest of the afternoon working on your computer, you’ll use far less energy on a portable space heater or air conditioner than if you use your home thermostat to create the same temperature across the house.
If you’ve decided that investing in a smart thermostat is not the right choice for your home at the moment, then following these tips for your programmable thermostat can save you a significant amount on your energy costs. And if you do decide to upgrade to a smart thermostat be sure to check out ABET’s coverage of the brands and features available!