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. Energystar.gov 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
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
During the colder months, Energy.gov 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.