Your thermostat gives you control over your HVAC system, which is the single most energy-intensive set of appliances in your home. A programmable thermostat allows you to have even more control without sacrificing comfort, because you can set the thermostat to change the temperature in your home when you are not there or when you are asleep. But just like any powerful tool, if you don’t use it right, you won’t reap the benefits. And it’s shocking to know how few people use their programmable thermostat correctly.
The first thermostat was created in the 1880s and just 20 years later Honeywell introduced the first programmable thermostat. That’s right, we’ve had programmable thermostats for more than 100 years, yet only one-third of American homes have programmable thermostats. And a study by the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab found that 90 percent of homeowners with a programmable thermostat say they rarely or never program their thermostat. The only way you can get benefits from your programmable thermostat is if you actually program it. Here are some ways you can save by using your programmable thermostat correctly:
Set your thermostat to an optimal temperature when you are awake
Everyone’s temperature preference varies – some like it cool and some need to feel warmer. But researchers have found that the temperature setting during the winter of 68 degrees when you are awake optimally strikes the balance between comfort and energy efficiency. In the summer, the optimal temperature is 78 degrees when you are awake.
Program your thermostat for temperatures when you are asleep and when you leave your home
According to the EPA, you can save as much as 10 percent per year on your heating and cooling by changing your thermostat by seven degrees from its normal setting for just eight hours per day. Generally, a person goes to bed at the same time, wakes up at the same time, and goes to work at the same time every weekday. So you should create a weekday schedule for your programmable thermostat. Most programmable thermostats have the ability to at least differentiate weekday and weekend days, but many have the ability to program seven different days of the week. Be sure to read your thermostat manual to understand its full set of capabilities. Again, the only way you can reap the benefits of a programmable thermostat are if you actually program it correctly.
Create a schedule that optimizes comfort and energy efficiency
Once you have your desired temperature for when you are awake, asleep, and gone, be sure to set your thermostat to adjust to those temperatures at the right time. It takes time for your home to warm up or cool down, so incorporate these adjustments into your schedule:
- Set your Away temperature to begin 30 minutes before you leave for work in the morning
- Set your Home temperature to begin 30 minutes before you come home
- Set your Sleep temperature to begin 60 minutes before you go to bed at night
- Set your Wake temperature to begin 30 minutes before you wake up in the morning
Avoid using the Hold feature
Sticking to a schedule is hard for just about anything and sometimes things come up that force you off that schedule. Most programmable thermostats have the ability to override your scheduled setting with a Hold setting of your choice. The problem with the Hold setting is that most people forget to return the thermostat back to the programmed schedule and the Hold setting runs indefinitely, eliminating the benefit of having a programmable thermostat.