Homeowners are constantly striving for ways to lower their energy costs and improve efficiency. Between rising gas prices and the overwhelming call to action by the green movement, it’s hard to ignore your energy bill. While many want to make an environmental difference, often these options are more expensive and difficult to implement. Programmable thermostats, on the other hand, are a quick, easy, and incredibly convenient way to hop on the green train.
On This Page:
- Cost for Programmable Thermostats vs. Energy Bill Savings
- The Convenience Factor
- Energy Savings
- Tips & Tricks
Before we get into the convenience factors of programmable thermostats, let’s talk price tags. For a programmable thermostat, all you’ll need to buy is the actual thermostat, which will range from $50 to $200. Installing a thermostat costs between $115 and $250. This is chump change compared to replacing your furnace, installing new windows, or switching out your appliances for energy-efficient options. Although these are all good ways to lower your energy bill, there is usually a large price tag attached. Whereas with programmable thermostats, the cost is small and the savings are big. About 15 percent per year. You can do this simply by turning back your thermostat by 10% to 15% for eight hours a day. These gadgets make this easy.
Besides cutting down your energy bills, programmable thermostats add a significant convenience factor to the comfort of your home, and save energy without you lifting a finger (or actually, by you only lifting a finger). Essentially, you are customizing how you heat or cool your home. So turn down your heat while you’re at work all day, and have it set to kick back on an hour before you return. That’s eight hours of lowered energy, and your home will still be nice and toasty upon your arrival. Also, most people prefer a cooler environment while they sleep. They curl up under a blanket, which leaves the necessity for cranking the heat a lot lower than the waking hours. With a programmable thermostat, lower your heat from an hour after you go to bed until an hour before you wake up. You’ll never know the difference when your feet hit that bathroom tile at sunrise. These hours really start to add up and shave off both wasted energy and unnecessarily high energy bills.
There are probably rooms that you don’t use on a daily basis. A guest room, for example, often gets heated with the same ferocity as the rest of the house with no one to occupy it. Maybe you don’t use your finished basement every day. Programmable thermostats give you the option to turn off the heat in these unused areas of your home until it is necessary. This includes your entire home while you’re away on vacation. Press the “hold” button, or program your heat to kick back on a few hours before you return.
In some cases, having several thermostats is useful if you have special needs. If you have a wine cellar, for example, and need to keep it at the perfect 55 degrees, then you could set up a thermostat set for that space. There are a lot of options out there to really customize your home’s heating and cooling plan.
Programmable thermostats can save you up to 15 percent or more on your energy bills if set correctly. Here’s how to program yours:
- Find an average temperature. 68˚ Fahrenheit is an optimal temperature for all seasons.
- Determine your cycle. Record your wake time, sleep time and the times you leave and return from work.
- Set your thermostat. Use your recorded times to set your temperatures accordingly. Be sure to factor in seasonal temperature changes — especially at night.
While there are many benefits to programmable thermostats, there are a few things to keep in mind.
Many models have a variety pre-programmed settings to choose from. If that is the case, it is better not to override these settings and make you own because you could end up using more energy.
If you have a heat pump system, you may require a special kind of programmable thermostat to maximize your energy savings. It’s best to talk to your HVAC specialist to figure out what will work best for your home.
Make sure that your air conditioning and furnace filter is clean. If your system isn’t working properly, check to make sure that the filter is clean because that could be causing your problem.
These types of thermostats won’t lessen the load on an old furnace or heating and cooling system. It will merely limit the time that it is used. Your heating system will work the same as it always has, the timing will just be different.
The bottom line is that there is a lot of value associated with installing a programmable thermostat. You can ensure maximum comfort by personalizing your heating system to your preferences, while saving money in the process. Not bad for a quick switch.