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How thermostats save money and energy

Friday, July 18th, 2014
Issue 29, Volume 18.

Homeowners who have not yet upgraded to a programmable thermostat could be doing themselves a significant disservice. Not only are programmable thermostats key to saving energy, they also save money.

The Alliance for Environmental Sustainability note that for every degree they adjust their thermostats, homeowners save between 1 and 3 percent on their heating and cooling bills. Setting the thermostat slightly warmer in the summer and a notch or two cooler in the winter can save a considerable amount of energy and money. The United States Department of Energy says homeowners who make slight seasonal adjustments to their thermostats can save as much as 10 percent a year on heating and cooling costs.

But such adjustments are only truly effective when homeowners commit to them on a daily basis. The best way to stay on top of temperature settings is to purchase a programmable thermostat, which allow homeowners to predetermine when heat or air conditioning will turn on and off. Many programmable thermostats can store multiple daily settings, allowing homeowners to further customize their heating and cooling schedules based on the time of day as well as the day of the week.

According to, a common misconception associated with thermostats is that a furnace or an air conditioning system works harder than normal to get the space back to a comfortable temperature after the thermostat has been set back, and that this hard work means the overall savings are negligible. However, when Advertisement
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a home’s interior temperature is similar to the temperature outside, the home will lose energy to the surrounding environment more slowly. The lower the interior temperature, the slower the heat loss in cold weather, and a higher interior temperature will slow the flow of heat into your house in hot weather.

Programmable thermostats are available in a variety of models. Some are easier to program than others. Certain thermostats can be linked to a home’s wireless system so that adjustments to the thermostat can even be made when you are not at home. Consult with an HVAC expert to see if a particular thermostat works best with your system. Some homes may benefit from a dual- or multi-zoned system, which allows homeowners to adjust the temperature independently from other floors or wings of a home.

The location of the thermostat also is important. The thermostat should be placed where it can get the most accurate reading of the house. It should be on an interior wall away from direct sunlight, doorways, drafts, and windows. It should not be directly facing an air vent. Avoid placing furniture above or below the thermostat, as such furnishings can impede proper air flow.

If you feel like your HVAC system is cycling on and off even after programming, you may need to call a technician, who can determine if there are any obstructions to the thermostat or if the unit is the appropriate size for your home.



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