How to Save Energy with Your Thermostat

Monique O’Grady with the Alliance to Save Energy is eager to help you save money. She says that heating and cooling makes up almost half of your home’s energy consumption, which is a tremendous amount of pressure, but that you can reduce those costs substantially through the thoughtful use of a programmable thermostat.

Why a programmable thermostat?

The essence of a programmable thermostat is that you don’t have to remember to adjust the temperature; it does it for you. When you’re at work and nobody is in the house you have different heating and cooling needs than when, for example, you’re spending an afternoon at home. When you sleep at night you don’t need the house to be at the same temperature it is when you’re eating dinner. But how often do people really remember to change it manually? Not as often as we should!


Programmable thermostats can cost as little as $25.00, but they’ll save you many times more than that over the course of a year, depending on where you live and what your energy company charges you. It can be a savings, O’Grady says, of $110 or more.


So what is it that you want your programmable thermostat to do? In general, you want to set it at 68 degrees when you are at home—and set it lower when you are sleeping or not in the house for more than an hour at a time.

In the summertime you can save by keeping your house warmer when you are away (at work during the day, for example) and lowering it to 78 degrees when you are at home and need to be cool.

The models

When shopping for a programmable thermostat, make sure that you choose the correct model. There is a plethora of choices out there and every individual homeowner and family’s needs are different.

For example, if your heating and cooling needs are constantly changing, what you want to buy is what is called a seven-day model, so that you can program it to do different things on different days. If you have occasional meetings in the evening, for example, you may want to program that in for only Tuesdays and not the other days.

The five-two model is great for households that keep the same schedules Monday through Friday—but do completely different things on the weekends (not an atypical schedule for more families). The five-one-one model works best if you have a steady consistent weekday/weeknight schedule, but your plans are variable for Saturdays and Sundays.

Location, location, location!

Some of the newer models of programmable thermostats will even learn what you program in and will respond and adjust accordingly!

One of the things to remember about programmable thermostats is that the location matters. Think about it: if you put a thermostat in direct sunlight, it will heat up and assume the house is warmer than it actually is! Programmable thermostats perform best (and most reliably) when they’re no
t in direct sunlight and are away from doorways and drafts. Also make sure that they’re not blocked by furniture or anything else that might prevent you from programming and updating them.

O’Grady summarizes that if you keep your house comfortable by using a programmable thermostat, you will be more comfortable with your energy bills!