How to Save Money and Energy with Your Thermostat
March 29, 2018
Did you know that your heating and cooling bill accounts for over half of your homes total energy consumption? As we March into spring and summer, it’s important to reevaluate your thermostat settings and comfort preferences for the new season.
If you are interested in saving money and energy this spring and summer, the thermostat is a great place to start.
How to Save Money with Your Thermostat
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, “You can save as much as 10% a year on heating and cooling by simply turning your thermostat back 7°-10°F for 8 hours a day from its normal setting.”
You can turn the thermostat back manually or use a programmable or smart thermostat to pre-set the schedule automatically.
Review & Update Programmable Thermostat Settings
New temperatures mean new thermostat settings. You won’t rely on the same settings in the spring, so remember to reprogram your comfort preferences for the new season. Also, although newer thermostats do it for themselves, don’t forget to update your thermostat clock!
Energy-Saving Schedule for Spring & Summer:
- Wake: 78°F
- Away: 85°F
- Return: 78°F
- Sleep: 78°F
Since every home is a little different, try setting the thermostat to the highest temperature as comfortable possible. Once you find that perfect temperature, set it for the times you are home and add about 7-10°F for the temperature setting when you are away from home.
Creating the perfect thermostat schedule for your home will take some trial and error, but once you find the perfect schedule, you can effortlessly begin saving money and energy.
Keep in mind that if you have zoned heating and cooling, you will need to individually program each thermostat for each zone.
Consider Programmable and Smart Thermostats
While you can definitely adjust thermostat temperatures manually, constantly changing the thermostat setting can waste a lot of money and energy. With a programmable or smart thermostat, you can save energy and avoid discomfort by returning temperatures to normal before you wake or return home. Programmable thermostat can be digital, electromechanical, or a combination of both.
Most smart thermostats (and some programmable thermostats) come with apps that allow you to control the temperature remotely. This means you never have to worry about setting the thermostat before you leave! Smart thermostats also provide data for tracking and managing energy use.
If you have a heat pump, make sure you have a smart or programmable thermostat designed specifically for heat pump use.
Eliminate Heat Sources
The location of your thermostat is important for proper performance and efficiency. Are you ever confused when the air conditioner turns on when the house feels cool? One possible explanation is a false temperature reading caused by a heat source, such as sun rays, HVAC vents, and electrical equipment.
To avoid false temperature readings, also known as “ghost readings,” make sure your thermostat is installed on an interior wall, away from:
- Direct Sunlight
- Air Leaks and Drafts
- Window and Doorways
- Lamps and Electronics
Ideally, the thermostat will be located in a convenient area with plenty of airflow. Try to keep furniture and other items away from the thermostat to prevent any airflow blockage.
Don’t Turn the Thermostat Off
Many homeowners make the mistake of completely turning off their HVAC system when leaving home for an extended period of time. The reasoning is simple, yet flawed: by turning the thermostat off, you won’t be wasting any money or energy on heating or cooling an empty home. Unfortunately, this can lead to damaging conditions, such as freezing temperatures, high humidity, and other extreme temperature and humidity changes.
Instead of turning your thermostat off, use these settings:
- Spring & Summer: No higher than 86°F
- Fall & Winter: No lower than 55°F
If you have a programmable thermostat, use the “hold” or “vacation” feature. This will override the regularly programmed schedule for the time you are away. When you arrive back home, turning off the vacation hold will return your thermostat back to its programmed schedule.
Don’t “Oversteer” Your Thermostat
While it may be tempting to crank the thermostat way up or way down to heat or cool the home faster, it doesn’t work and could result in unnecessary energy expenses. Simply set the desired end temperature and wait. The HVAC system won’t work any faster if you “oversteer” the thermostat.
Don’t Forget to Change the Batteries
Most thermostats today will tell you when batteries must be changed. If not, it’s a good idea to change the batteries biannually, or every time you change the clocks for Daylight Saving Time.
Rebates & Tax Credits
Professional Thermostat Installation
Contact a qualified HVAC contractor to install the thermostat properly. Improper installation can lead to false readings, inadequate heating/cooling, and
Additional Resources for Programmable Thermostat Savings:
- The ENERGY STAR® programmable thermostat tool
- ENERGY STAR® programmable thermostat guidelines
- Energy Saver 101 Infographic: Home Cooling
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