How to Select the Best Programmable Thermostat

Smart spending often comes from smart technology. With heating and cooling racking up your bills each month, there’s no better reason to use today’s cutting-edge thermostats to cut down on costs. points out that, when properly used, programmable thermostats can save you approximately $180 each year in energy expenditures. The key is knowing how to choose the right thermostat for your needs, and then learning how to set it properly.


To make the most informed decision – and save you the most money – when shopping for thermostats, start with consulting your calendar. Consider how often you’re away from home for long periods of time, and then choose from the three programmable thermostat models: 7-day, 5+2 and 5-1-1.



Find Your Match


Find Your Match 1

Is your schedule unpredictable from one day to the next?


Your thermostat: 7-day model


The 7-day model offers the most flexibility, because you can set a different schedule each day of the week.



Do you follow the same schedule during the work week and then have a regular weekend routine?


Your thermostat: 5+2 model


With the 5+2, you can pre-set temperatures and time periods a particular way during your 5-day work week, while setting a separate program for your days off.



Do you keep one schedule Monday through Friday, but frequently change it on Saturday and Sunday?


Your thermostat: 5-1-1 model


As its name indicates, you’ll set the thermostat to certain times and temperatures five days of the week. When the weekend rolls around, you can set each day (1 and 1) to something different to accommodate your (or your kids’) busy social life.



Set It for Savings


Set It for Savings

During the colder months, recommends setting your thermostat at 68°F while you’re home and then turning it back 10 degrees for the time you’ll be at work, on vacation, or even sleeping (if you can tolerate the chill). This can amount to a 1% savings per degree. In addition to the temperature, follow these dos and don’ts to capitalize on your smart thermostat:



  • Set your time periods in increments of 8 hours or more. This is why you’ll notice every programmable thermostat allows at least four temperature periods each day.
  • Install separate units in areas of your home that aren’t occupied very often, such as a guest room.
  • Use the “hold” setting while on vacation. Just be sure to keep it at that energy-efficient temperature mentioned above.


  • Do not install your thermostat near heating or cooling vents, your oven or microwave, electronics, open doors or in direct sunlight.
  • Do not override the pre-set programming, even if you unexpectedly came home an hour earlier. This will use up more energy than just leaving it alone until the next period begins.
  • Do not try to heat or cool your house faster by cranking the thermostat to an extreme temperature. When you pre-set your thermostat, it’s smart enough to know when to start heating up or cooling down to reach the desired temperature before you walk in the door.

Once you’ve found the right model for your household’s energy needs, sit back and let the thermostat take care of the savings.


Save Energy on National Cut Energy Costs Day

Happy National Cut Energy Costs Day! Today, and every day for that matter, is a great day to find new ways to save energy and money. There are many ways to accomplish this – it just takes a little bit of research, creativity, and lucky for you, help from


We’ve gathered a few ways to help you celebrate National Cut Energy Costs Day. What better way to celebrate than putting money back into your pocket?



Ways to Save Through Your Daily Routine


We often don’t realize just how much energy we are using during our morning, afternoon, and nightly routines. A few simple changes could go a long way for saving energy in your home.


  • Shorten the showers: your hot water heater won’t have to work as hard if you cut down that half hour shower to about 10 minutes or less.
  • For the ladies: let your hair air dry as often as possible.
  • Try carpooling: if you have little ones, carpool with other parents. Or, if you live near a coworker, have them give you a lift, or vice versa, every once in a while.
  • After dinner: you don’t have to run your dishwasher every night. Only run it when it’s full.

Small Investments Can Make a Big Impact


Not all investments have to take a chunk of change from your wallet right away. Small investments in energy-saving products can help you save some big bucks.


  • Energy-efficient light bulbs: while these bulbs are a tad more costly than regular bulbs, energy-efficient bulbs such as LED light bulbs help to preserve electricity.
  • Home insulation: we are still in the winter season, so invest in some home insulation. This will help to keep your home warmer without running up the electric bill.
  • Ceiling fans: be sure your ceiling fans work for the space they’re in. Optimize air flow by using this guide to help you pick the best size and type of fan for a specific room.  

Create Some Good Habits


Adopting a few habits can help you save energy and money over time. Not all habits have to be bad habits.


  • Turn off the lights: it’s hard to remember to do this when you are in a rush. But if you become accustomed to turning off the lights regularly, you could save a lot of energy.
  • Turn down the thermostat when you leave: a few degrees can make a world of difference. While you’re not home, your heating and air conditioning shouldn’t have to work as hard.
  • Turn off the water: you’d be surprised at how much water is wasted while you’re brushing your teeth or scrubbing your hands.








Top 5 Energy-Efficient Countries Series: Japan and Italy

Every year, the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) releases a list of the top 23 most energy-efficient countries. Rankings are based on energy-efficiency for buildings, industry, national, and transportation efforts to reduce energy usage. Each country earns their spot according to accumulated efforts over the previous year.

Italy and Japan have tied at number two. Here’s a look at a few highlights.

National Efforts

National EffortsJapan came in second in the national efforts category based on the ACEEE report. The country has made a large reduction in energy intensity between 2000 and 2013. Japan also has strong energy saving goals, such as regulating criteria for energy efficiency and setting minimum energy performance standards for energy-consuming devices. With one of the most efficient thermoelectric power systems, Japan is able to utilize heat from solid waste. Italy, on the other hand, needs to improve its national efforts and invest more money into energy efficiency programs. Even though Italy is committed to an energy-savings target under the European Union’s Energy Efficiency Direction, it only saw a 9 percent reduction in overall energy intensity between 2000 and 2013. However, Italy’s strong showing in other areas helped it to tie for the number two spot.


TransportationBoth countries tied with 16 points in the area of conserving energy through transportation. Italy participates in the EU’s vehicle standards program and plans to reach up to 56.9 mpg fleet-wide by 2025. Currently, Italy’s average mpg per vehicle is about 38.6. Japan established the first fuel economy program for heavy-duty vehicles in 2005 and is one of only four countries to do so to date. Japan also hopes to reach a fleet-wide 45.9 mpg by 2025.


IndustryItaly has set standards in the industrial sector by establishing energy conservation targets. The country now requires all plant managers to meet these targets while implementing periodic audits. According to Italy’s report, a market-based energy efficiency scheme is the key to achieving the country’s industrial sector’s savings goal, which is set at 5.1 Mtoe (Million Tonnes of Oil Equivalent). Japan also did very well in this section of the analysis. Japan’s efforts toward a more energy-efficient industry include regulatory measures and voluntary actions. For example, The Act Concerning the Rational Use of Energy set mandatory requirements for designated industries back in 1978 and continues to be the foundation of standards, updated every year.

Some of these requirements include appointing an energy manager that reports the status of energy consumption annually and implementing a benchmark system that requires companies to set medium and long-term energy-saving goals. However, Japan could also improve in this section of the analysis by implementing more government support and financial backing.


Solar Powered Metro Sets a Shining Example

Santiago, Chile, will soon roll out the world’s first public transportation system run primarily on solar powered energy. PR Newswire reports that electricity generated by a new solar power plant will fill up to 60 percent of Metro of Santiago’s energy demand starting sometime in 2017.



Who’s Making the Switch


Easy-Energy-Saving-Who's-Making-the-SwitchMetro of Santiago, an underground railway network, serves Chile’s capital city. The system was once described by as “very clean, efficient and packed like sardines during rush hours.” The system currently carries 2.2 million passengers per day in a city with a population of more than five million.



The Power Behind the Project


Easy-Energy-Saving-The-Power-Behind-the-ProjectThe Metro will receive power generated from the El Pelicano Solar project, a 100-megawatt solar power plant going up near the cities of La Higuera and Vallenar. An agreement between Total and SunPower Corp. says the latter will purchase 300 gigawatt hours per year for “the supply of clean, solar energy” to Metro of Santiago. Oil and gas company, Total, is the world’s second ranked solar energy operator with SunPower.



Why It Matters


Easy-Energy-Saving-Why-It-MattersEduardo Medina is SunPower’s executive vice president of global power plants. He says, “Solar is an ideal energy source for Chile because of the country’s high solar resource and transparent energy policies.”


Bernard Clément, Total’s senior vice president, Business & Operations of the New Energies division, agrees. “We are proud to partner with Metro in developing a new way of powering public transportation systems through competitive, reliable and clean energy.”



Fast Tracking Solar Powered Transportation


Easy-Energy-Saving-Fast-Tracking-Solar-Powered-TransportationIf all goes according to plan, construction of the solar power plant to fuel the metro system will begin later this year and should be up and running by late next year. That puts Metro of Santiago on track to run on mostly solar energy by late 2017.

Explore Chile’s Metro of Santiago, or learn more about solar power plants and the benefits of solar energy.










Smart Buildings Save Energy

What if the buildings we live and work in could understand our habits and use this information to conserve energy? That’s the idea behind Human-Building Interaction (HBI), according to a recent Center for Energy and Environment (CEE) report.



What is HBI?


What is HBIHBI is a way of thinking about the design of a building based on its use. The process studies the way occupants interact with the building to determine ways to encourage energy savings. By understanding the motivations that drive the occupants’ actions, the building’s designers can respond with innovative solutions to promote more efficient energy use within the building.



The HBI Process


The HBI ProcessSpecifically, HBI involves a five-step process of empathizing with users, defining problems, coming up with possible solutions and then prototyping and testing the results. The process requires an understanding of factors like user motivation, ability and triggers, so that these can be incorporated into effective, energy-saving product design.



How HBI Developed


How HBI DevelopedThe concept behind HBI is similar to one created by Tony Fadell, a former Senior Vice President at Apple. Fadell became frustrated by ugly, complicated-to-use thermostats while building a “super-energy efficient” house. Working together with former Apple colleague, Matt Rogers, Fadell developed a new way for occupants to interact with a building’s thermostats. The result was the Nest Learning Thermostat, which created a whole new market for smart thermostats. The company was later purchased by Google for $3.2 billion.



The Future of HBI


The Future of HBIThanks to tech-savvy consumers accustomed to smart technologies, advanced automation and social media, the CEE report predicts that the Human-Building Interaction movement will continue to grow. It’s entirely possible that, in the future, HBI will delve even deeper into our use of buildings to develop even smarter, more effective ways to conserve energy.


“Understanding these trends and anticipating the changing landscape of how we interact with buildings,” the report explains, “is crucial to creating innovative energy efficient products and facilitating and maintaining energy saving practices and services.”



Here’s where to learn more about the Nest thermostat and Human-Building Interaction.


Home Energy Quiz & Summer Links

If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you’ve probably learned quite a bit about energy conservation. So now it’s time to test your knowledge! Take this quiz from the Department of Energy that covers everything from what accounts for the most energy use in American homes to LED lighting myths.



Take the Quiz


Maybe you’ll discover that you already know a lot about energy conservation – or maybe you’ll learn something new? Either way, you can never know too much about energy conservation!



Links for Summer


Links for SummerSummer brings us hotter temperatures and high travel season, so we’ve compiled a few links with some summer energy-saving tips for your reference below. Stay cool and happy travels!






Keep Your Cool with Heat Rejection

Heat rejection is a smart, efficient process that keeps cooling costs down by preventing excess heat from entering a building’s interior. According to the International Window Film Association (IWFA), window films are an effective way to achieve this, obtaining up to 80 percent solar heat rejection.



Heat Rejecting Window Films


Heat Rejecting Window FilmsApproximately 40 percent of a home’s heat comes through its windows. By bouncing solar energy back and away from the interior, window films provide a home or other building with a “solar shield,” cutting cooling costs by as much as 30 percent.



Keeping It Light


Keeping It LightWhile almost any window film will provide heat rejection, today’s modern, high quality window films filter out damaging UV rays yet still allow visible light to penetrate the film’s surface. Although heat-causing solar energy is reflected back outside, creating energy savings, light is allowed to penetrate the film, preserving interior aesthetics. Not to mention preserving the enjoyment of beautiful views!



Long- and Short-Term Benefits


Long- and Short-Term BenefitsThe harmful effects of sunlight add up, not just in terms of energy costs, but also in damage to furnishings. Window film protects valuable fabrics and art from damaging ultraviolet rays that cause fading. This can potentially save thousands of dollars in replacement costs. Also, a variety of styles and hues make window films an architectural enhancement that can increase a building’s design value. Some homes will even qualify for a tax credit.



Additional Advantages


Additional AdvantagesAside from its heat rejection capabilities, window film offers a number of valuable benefits. First, it protects occupants from damaging UV rays and the glare that leads to eye fatigue. These same films allow more natural light to filter through and help reduce the need for artificial lighting. Second, window film helps to eliminate hot spots within a space, regulating the temperature and eliminating the need to run the air conditioning as frequently.



If you’re considering adding window film to your home or building, make sure you gain the maximum benefits by having them installed by a professional window film dealer. To find a Madico Window Films dealer in your area, call 888-887-2022 or email





Creating the Right Climate for Green Learning at MIT

Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s (MIT’s) Center for Collective Intelligence created Climate CoLab “to harness the collective intelligence of thousands of people from all around the world to address global climate change.” The climate change crowdsourcing platform invites anyone to join and participate in contests or comment on proposals.


Recently, Climate CoLab announced the winners of three contests. The contests asked the Climate CoLab community of 130,000 people to submit proposals for addressing climate change in various categories. This year’s winner in the category, “Harnessing the Power of MIT Alumni“, focused on promoting green careers.



The Winning Proposal


The Winning ProposalTop honor was awarded to Team MITACAL for their project, ClimateX. Team MITACAL took the concept of the typical Massive Open Online Course (MOOC), designed to reach learners on a massive scale, and personalized it for those interested in climate-related careers. Although the ClimateX solution addresses a number of typical MOOC problems, its insightful use of the MIT alumni was an essential component of the solution.



How ClimateX Works


How ClimateX WorksWorking within MIT’s already successful edX learning platform, ClimateX adds a layer of personalization similar to that of computer industry sites like Pluralsight and Udacity, only in this case, specific to green careers. Recognizing that mentoring and career advice are essential to a student’s success, ClimateX taps into MIT’s vast alumni network to feature Climate Corps, mentors and trainers who provide expertise specific to a student’s area of interest.



How Climate CoLab Contests Address Climate Change


How Climate CoLab Contests Address Climate ChangeThe idea is to break down the highly complex problems of climate change into more manageable sub-problems, using a formula titled, “What-Where-Who-How“. Once a smaller problem finds a suitable solution, that solution can be incorporated into a larger scale solution that addresses the broader problems associated with climate change.



If you’d like to learn more about Climate CoLab contests, or how to become a member of the community, visit the Climate CoLab website.


Life in a Smart Energy Home

What if your home could generate energy rather than merely consume it? Some homes are already achieving greater than Zero Net Energy (ZNE), a term Edison International uses to describe a home “whose annual energy consumption is no greater than its annual energy generation.”

The Smart Energy Home Experience

The Smart Energy Home ExperienceThe idea is not a new one. For years builders and homeowners have used window film to help conserve energy and achieve ZNE, such as in this Florida homeThe Honda Smart Energy Home was completed on a University of California campus in the spring of 2015. The big news is that these homes are now being marketed. The SolarCity Smart Energy Home in Hawaii, for example, is already available for lease or purchase.

How a Smart Energy Home Works

How a Smart Energy Home WorksIn a smart energy home, including the SolarCity Smart Energy Home, a battery system stores solar electricity for use at night. The home’s gateway controls all energy devices to ensure maximum solar generation and consumption. An electric water heater, for example, uses solar energy collected throughout the day to heat water stored for use at night. The Nest Learning Thermostat modifies the home’s energy usage based on how much solar energy is available, ensuring the needed energy won’t be exported back to the grid.

Energy Customized for a Home’s Residents

Energy Customized for a Home’s ResidentsThe SolarCity Home’s technology and the size of the system that controls it are customized to the residents’ energy usage. In general, the homes offer all the comforts of other modern homes without the excessive energy use.

Will Smart Energy Home Ownership Change the Way You Live?

Will Smart Energy Home Ownership Change the Way You Live?Much of the technology featured in today’s smart energy homes is readily available. So whether you live in Hawaii or elsewhere, there’s a strong likelihood that a smart energy home will soon be available in your neighborhood. The question, however, isn’t whether you’ll want to live in one. If you’re like most smart energy home residents, it will be how could you have ever lived without one.

Learn more about Hawaii’s Solar City Smart Energy Home here.


Artificial Grass Takes Root in California

California, hit hard by record drought, has become fertile ground for artificial grass. Here are some pros and cons of synthetic lawns.



A Greener Alternative to Natural Grass


Artificial Grass Takes Root in California - In-Text ImagesGreener, albeit fake, grass has quickly become an acceptable alternative to natural grass for many Californians. The artificial turf business in the Golden State is booming as a result, according to an article in The Washington Post. Those who want greener lawns without incurring the wrath of water conservationists or the state government, see artificial grass as a smart solution.



What’s Driving Growth?


Whats Driving GrowthGovernor Jerry Brown last year ordered the state’s first mandatory watering restrictions in history. Lawn watering typically accounts for one-third of urban water use, so lawns are a natural choice for reducing water consumption. Since the restrictions took effect, business has grown nonstop for local turf manufacturers and retailers.



Who’s Buying It?


Whos Buying ItThe market ranges from celebrities to the middle-class – pretty much anyone who values a greener lawn while staying within the state’s stringent watering restrictions. Those who’ve tried artificial grass claim newer versions far surpass the original AstroTurf, bearing a much closer resemblance to lush, natural grass – only without the constant need for watering and mowing.



Who’s Not Buying It?


Whos Not Buying ItNot everyone thinks artificial grass is a good solution. Oddly, they cite the environment as the reason. Many conservation groups insist that artificial turf does little to foster soil health. Nor is it easily recycled. Some argue it can lead to excessive water runoff. To add to these concerns, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has begun an investigation into the possible health risks of artificial turf used on playing fields.



Another recent Easy Energy Saving Tips article discusses rain barrels as another method of conserving water. You can learn more about installing artificial grass with step-by-step instructions from DIY Network. Or, find out more about the potential health risks from the EPA.