While millions of programmable thermostats are purchased each year by homeowners hoping to cut their utility bills, representatives of the EPA’s Energy Star program have said that many consumers aren’t using them effectively. In fact, according to some studies, between 40 and 70 percent of people who own programmable thermostats aren’t using the programming feature or have found them to be too difficult to operate, and that means they may not see lower heating bills this winter. When used properly, a programmable thermostat can save homeowners on average about $180 a year on energy bills. To help your readers maximize their energy savings while maintaining their overall comfort, Chris Spencer, a home comfort and energy efficiency expert with Lennox – a leading provider of home comfort systems — offers the following simple tips for programming a programmable thermostat:
- Get Your Schedule Down. Before programming the thermostat, it’s important to take into account you and your family’s home lifestyle. For example, consider when your family wakes up, when they leave for the day, when they come home, and when they go to bed. These four times of the day will dictate when you should program the thermostat to adjust the indoor temperature. Also, if someone is typically home during the day, this should be factored into your program settings.
- Set It and Forget It. In the winter, Spencer recommends dropping the temperature by 8 degrees when you’re away from home or asleep. (In the summer, you can raise the temperature by 7 degrees while you’re away and about 4 degrees when sleeping.) While the exact temperature setting should be based on your family’s personal comfort needs, the location of your home, and your desire to reduce your energy consumption, following is an example of temperature settings offered by Lennox that will help save energy and lower your heating and cooling costs:
Setting Time Temperature Setting
(Winter Heating Season)
(Summer Cooling Season)
Wake 6 a.m. 70 F 78 F Day 8 a.m. 62 F 85 F Evening 6 p.m. 70 F 78 F Sleep 10 p.m. 62 F 82 F
- Avoid the Temptation to Touch. Spencer says to resist the urge to override the programmed settings. Cranking up the thermostat to 90 degrees in the winter, or turning it down to 50 degrees in the summer, will not heat or cool the home any quicker. In fact, it can cause your heating and cooling system to work harder and less efficiently.
- Put Things on Hold While You’re Away. Finally, if you’re going on vacation or will be away from home for any extended period of time, Spencer and Lennox recommend lowering the temperature by several degrees in winter (or raising the temperature in summer) and then using the “hold” or “vacation” setting on the programmable thermostat. This will prevent the heating and cooling system from running when it’s not needed, and will help save money.