Consumers can save about 10 percent a year on heating and cooling bills with the help of programmable thermostats, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. Here are four tips that the Department offers to help homeowners achieve those savings.
1. Raise or lower your temperature when you’re not home
Properly set your programmable thermostat to automatically raise or lower your home’s temperature when you’re not around, and then automatically return the temperature to a comfortable level by the time you get back.
Program your thermostat to keep your home at 78 degrees during the summer and 68 degrees during the winter while you’re at home. Then, for the time you’ll be away from home, like while you’re away at work, set your thermostat back 10 degrees — to 88 degrees during the summer and 58 degrees during the winter.
2. Keep setback periods at least eight hours long
In order to save the most money, you’ll need to be able to set your programmable thermostat back at least 10 degrees for about eight hours a day. Setting your thermostat back 10 to 15 degrees for eight hours a day can save you from 5 to 15 percent a year on heating and cooling bills — a savings of about 1 percent for each degree of setback.
3. Get special thermostats for special heating systems
Normal programmable thermostats are usually not recommended for homes with heat pumps, electric resistance heating, steam heat, or radiant floor heating. These systems typically require specialized thermostats to operate efficiently, so be sure to check with your system’s manufacturer before you buy or install a programmable thermostat.
4. Install thermostats in neutral parts of the home
If you don’t already have a programmable thermostat, the good news is that they’re affordable and can be easy to install for do-it-yourselfers. However, make sure the thermostat is properly installed in a neutral part of the home, away from direct sunlight, drafts, doorways, skylights, and windows, in order to avoid “ghost readings” that could lead to unnecessary furnace or air conditioner cycling.
Energy Savers website, “Thermostats and Control Systems.”
ENERGY STAR website, “Proper Use Guidelines for Programmable Thermostats."
ENERGY STAR website, “Programmable Thermostats: Installation.”