Size-wise, the thermostat to your heating and air conditioning system is fairly small. Yet this small device is obviously a major player in the control of your energy costs. According to the Department of Energy, if you set your thermostat back 10 to 15 degrees for eight hours, you can save 5 to 15 percent a year on your heating and cooling bills. Each degree accounts for a savings of as much as 1 percent when the setback period is eight hours long. (In the summer, you can follow the same strategy – just in a different direction.)
This “setback” makes even more sense when you consider that your home is either unoccupied for that period of time, or else it is when you are sleeping and don’t need the higher heating level. In other words, the energy savings come with no sacrifice in comfort.
Furthermore, you can make these temperature adjustments automatically and on a set schedule with the assistance of a programmable thermostat. These energy-saving devices can store multiple daily settings that, if needed, you can always override manually when your schedule changes. Because you can set the temperature changes to take place automatically, your house can return to a comfortable temperature before you return home or before you rise for the day.
Choosing Your Programmable Thermostat
How do you know which programmable thermostat is best for you? Energy.gov explains your basic options: “Most programmable thermostats are either digital, electromechanical, or some mixture of the two. Digital thermostats offer the most features in terms of multiple setback settings, overrides, and adjustments for daylight savings time, but may be difficult for some people to program. Electromechanical systems often involve pegs or sliding bars and are relatively simple to program.”
Will these continuing changes increase the work your system has to perform? Energy.gov provides another important piece of information: “A common misconception associated with thermostats is that a furnace works harder than normal to warm the space back to a comfortable temperature after the thermostat has been set back, resulting in little or no savings. In fact, as soon as your house drops below its normal temperature, it will lose energy to the surrounding environment more slowly. The lower the interior temperature, the slower the heat loss. So the longer your house remains at the lower temperature, the more energy you save, because your house has lost less energy than it would have at the higher temperature. The same concept applies to raising your thermostat setting in the summer – a higher interior temperature will slow the flow of heat into your house, saving energy on air conditioning.”