Thermostats have been around since the late 1800s. Today, the market is full of choices ranging from simple, manual models to smart versions that "learn" your living patterns and adjust the heating and cooling cycles to match. Many of these smart thermostats come with smartphone apps allowing you to monitor and control your home temperature remotely.
The least expensive thermostat is a "manual" model. These have basic controls. For example, there is generally a dial or lever to set the desired temperature, a switch to choose between heating and cooling and another to control the fan.
The next model up is a programmable thermostat. These are highly recommended as they can result in energy savings of 5 to 10 percent (https://www.energy.gov/energysaver/thermostats) and eliminate forgetting to change settings. Programmable thermostats can be as simple as a program for weekdays and the weekend to those that allow you to program each day individually. For each programmable day, you set a temperature for Wake, Leave, Return and Sleep. Some models come programmed with the Department of Energy's recommendations for the settings, making it easier to use.
The most recent addition to the thermostat family is the smart thermostat. These offer additional features such as learning your routine and automatically changing the temperature settings accordingly. The Geofencing tracks your location using your smartphone then uses the away and home settings as you come and go, and smartphone apps that put you in control of your systems anywhere you have an internet connection.
Some thermostats have additional functions such as allowing you to enter your energy costs, providing alerts when temperature settings are reached, reminding you to check your filters, and sending you details on your energy use.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
- At the bare minimum, you should have a programmable thermostat.
- To purchase any thermostat, you will need to match it to your system; heating only, cooling only, heating and cooling, heat pump or conventional. Most thermostat packing will guide you through these choices.
- Consider a smart thermostat. While more expensive, they provide very useful features already noted. One of the most useful might be the ability to control and monitor remotely. For example, you are on winter break in a beachy location and hear of a storm back home. You can see if your heat is off and if it is, ask friends to take action to reduce damage.
- Thermostats can be an easy DIY project. While many, especially smart models, recommend professional installation, a competent DIYer should have little problem with the installation as instructions are generally very thorough.
A programmable thermostat helps make it easy for you to save by offering four pre-programmed settings to regulate your home's temperature in both summer and winter - when you are home, asleep or away.
- The pre-programmed settings that come with programmable thermostats are intended to deliver savings without sacrificing comfort. Depending on your family's schedule, you can see significant savings by sticking with those settings or adjust them as appropriate for your family.
- The key is to establish a program that automatically reduces heating and cooling in your home when you don't need as much. Use the programmable thermostat calculator to see what you can save with set-back temperatures that work for your family. The pre-programmed settings for a programmable thermostat are:
PROGRAMMABLE THERMOSTAT SETPOINT TIMES AND TEMPERATURES
|SETTING||TIME||SETPOINT TEMPERATURE (HEAT)||SETPOINT TEMPERATURE (C00L)|
70 Degrees Fahrenheit
|78 Degrees Fahrenheit|
|Day||8:00 a.m.||Setback at least 8 Degrees Fahrenheit||Setup at least 7 Degrees Fahrenheit|
|Evening||6:00 p.m.||70 Degrees Fahrenheit||78 Degrees Fahrenheit|
|Sleep||10:00 p.m.||Setback at least 8 Degrees Fahrenheit||Setup at least 4 Degrees Fahrenheit|
Simple Steps to Energy Savings with Programmable Thermostats
Achieve significant energy and money savings that are possible through the proper use of your programmable thermostat. Learn how to:
- Have your thermostat properly installed.
- Properly set and use your thermostat.
- Save with your manual thermostat by following the guidelines below.
Proper Use Guidelines for Programmable Thermostats
Through proper use of a programmable thermostat you can save about $180* every year in energy costs.
Rules of Thumb for Proper Use:
- Keep the temperature set at its energy savings set-points for long periods of time (at least 8 hours), for example, during the day when no one is at home and through the night after bedtime.
- All thermostats let you temporarily make an area warmer or cooler, without erasing the pre-set programming. This override is cancelled automatically at the next program period. You use more energy (and end up paying more on energy bills) if you consistently "hold" or over-ride the pre-programmed settings.
- Units typically have two types of hold features: (a.) hold/permanent/vacation; (b.) temporary. Avoid using the hold/permanent/vacation feature to manage day-to-day temperature settings. "Hold" or "vacation" features are best when you're planning to be away for an extended period. Set this feature at a constant, efficient temperature (i.e. several degrees warmer in summer, several degrees cooler in winter), when going away for the weekend or on vacation. You'll waste energy and money if you leave the "hold" feature at the comfort setting while you're away.
- Cranking your unit up to 90 degrees or down to 40 degrees, for example, will not heat or cool your house any faster. Most thermostats begin to heat or cool at a set time to reach setpoint temperatures sometime thereafter. Units with adaptive (smart/intelligent) recovery features are an exception to this rule. Adaptive recovery units are constantly calculating the amount of time required to heat or cool the house, so that it reaches that temperature when the homeowner programmed it. By "examining" the performance of the past few days, the thermostat can keep track of the seasons. In this way, your house is always at the comfort levels when occupied, but saving the most energy when occupied.
- Many homes use just one thermostat to control the whole house. If your home has multiple heating or cooling zones, you'll need a programmed setback thermostat for each zone to maximize comfort, convenience and energy savings throughout the house.
- If your programmable thermostat runs on batteries, don't forget to change the batteries each year. Some units will indicate when batteries must be changed.
*The $180 savings assume a typical, single-family home with a 10-hour daytime setback of 8 Degrees Fahrenheit in winter and setup of 7 Degrees Fahrenheit in summer, and an 8-hour nighttime setback of 8 Degrees Fahrenheit in winter and setup of 4 Degrees Fahrenheit in summer.