Improve Your Home's Energy Efficiency With a Programmable Thermostat
 

It’s safe to say that most homeowners have one thing in common – the desire to save money and energy whenever and wherever possible in their homes. One quick and easy thing you can do to achieve this goal is to install a programmable thermostat to help control the temperature inside your house.

What is a programmable thermostat?

It’s a thermostat with built-in functionality to allow for a variety of programmed settings telling it when to raise or lower the temperature inside a home. Essentially, this means that you are able to decide when and how often your home’s heating and cooling systems run throughout the day.

 

This device comes in handy when adjusting the temperature while you’re sleeping or away from home for a period of time. The thermostat will allow you to store and repeat various temperature settings for each day of the week.

 

For example, if you are going to be at work from 8 a.m. – 5 p.m., Monday through Friday throughout the summer, you can set your home’s thermostat to 80° Fahrenheit when you are at work. This will prevent your air conditioner from running constantly throughout the day to cool an empty house. Also, you can program the thermostat to lower the temperature to your desired comfort level for when you get back. That way, when you step inside, you’re hit with cool, refreshing air, and you don’t have to worry about walking into a hot home and adjusting the thermostat after a long day of work.

How does a programmable thermostat save energy?

According to the Department of Energy, a programmable thermostat could help you to save up to 10% annually on your heating and cooling expenses when you adjust your thermostat 7°-10° degrees Fahrenheit (higher in the summer, cooler in the winter) for a minimum of eight hours each day.

 

The standard programmable thermostat will allow you to store several temperature settings for each day of the week. It doesn’t make sense to keep your home at your desired “comfortable” temperature if you and your family aren’t going to be there to enjoy it. Instead, raise or lower the temperature so that your air conditioner and heating systems don’t have to run continuously during the day. When your heating and cooling systems are running less, you’re saving energy and are able to keep a little extra money in your wallet each month.

Won’t my heating and cooling systems have to work extra hard to cool/heat the home when I get back?

Many people believe that their heating and cooling systems have to work extra hard to make the home comfortable again if the temperature has been set lower/higher during the day. This isn’t true. In fact, during the summer, if you’ve set your thermostat to be higher than what you’d consider “comfortable,” it will help to slow the movement of outside heat into your home. The opposite is true during the winter, as well. A colder interior temperature will help slow the transfer of outside cold air into your home.

 

This means that you don’t need to set your cooling or heating system to a lower/higher temperature in hopes that it will cool/heat your home faster. Doing this will actually expend a significant amount of energy! Habits such as these could also cause premature wear and tear on your systems.

What temperature settings should I use during the summer and winter?

During the summer, set your thermostat to 78° Fahrenheit, or to the highest temperature that your family is comfortable with. You may also need to invest in a dehumidifier to help remove excess moisture from the air. In the winter months, set your thermostat to 68° Fahrenheit. For sleeping hours, you can adjust the temperature to be even lower in the winter, higher in the summer.

 

Essentially, the smaller the difference between the indoor and outdoor air temperatures, the more energy you will be saving because your heating and cooling systems won’t need to work as hard to keep your home comfortable.

What should I look for when buying a programmable thermostat?

There are several varieties available for homeowners, including digital and electromechanical models. Most homeowners find that the electromechanical devices are relatively easy to program. Digital versions may take a bit more effort. However, the owner’s manual should help you easily program either model you purchase.

 

After you’ve bought your new thermostat, be careful where you choose to install it. The thermostat should be on an interior wall that is not exposed to direct sunlight during the day. This could cause inaccurate temperature readings. Also, the thermostat should be installed in an area where there isn’t any furniture in front of or below it as this can prevent natural air flow, again, causing false temperature readings.

Other benefits of installing a programmable thermostat

Another perk of setting up one of these thermostats is that you may be eligible for a rebate or federal tax credit. The Department of Energy has put together this residential energy efficiency tax credit guide for homeowners.