Programming Your Thermostat

As the temperature outside falls, and your home energy bill rises, you may wonder what you can do to save money and energy.  According to the U.S. EPA,  most of the energy needed to run your home goes to heating and cooling. 

 energy use

Installing a programmable thermostat, and programming it properly, can add up to significant savings over the course of a year.  But is it right for you, and what’s the proper way to program it?  Didn’t you hear somehwere that it costs more to raise and lower the temperature than to just maintain it at one level all the time? 

A programmable thermostat is a benefit for anyone who is away from home for more than a few hours a day, or who can tolerate a setback at night while they are sleeping.  The amount of savings will depend on how much you set it back.  In general, for every degree you set back your thermostat, you can save 2% on your energy bill.  For example, an 8-hour daytime setback and a 10-hour nighttime setback of 8 degrees F in winter and 4 degrees F in summer can save $180 a year on average.  You can find a simple calculator here that will help you determine your savings given your preferred setbacks.  Also, you can find a video here that will demonstrate how to properly program a thermostat (and lots of other energy saving tips). 

Per the EPA’s Energy Star website, “It is a common misconception that it takes more energy to heat up a cold house than it does to keep a house warm all the time. Turning down the thermostat will always save energy, as will turning up the air conditioner temperature setting.”  This is certainly true for furnace or boiler systems.  However, our mechanical engineers caution that during the heating season, setting an electric heat pump system back more than a few degrees when it is very cold outside could engage the system’s emergency auxiliary heat, which is usually very inefficient.  Therefore for heat pump systems, it may be best to limit your heating setback point to only a few degrees below normal, and only if it will be setback for a long period of time (6+ hours).