Do You Use Your Programmable Thermostat Correctly?

You've probably heard for a while now that programmable thermostats save you money. In fact, Energy Star estimates that you can save approximately $180 each year in energy costs when you switch to a programmable thermostat. But these thermostats have a catch. You have to use them correctly to see the savings. Use the following guide to get the most out of your thermostat.

Pick the Right Model
If you have yet to buy a programmable thermostat, be careful with the model you buy. Although these thermostats offer more environmentally friendly benefits than their traditional partners, you still need to select a model that best suits your home and lifestyle.

5+2 Model
This model allows you to set one program for the week (5 days) another for the weekend (2 days). If you keep a consistent schedule, and your weekends don't differ too much from each other, you'll want to stick to this simpler model.

5+1+1 Model
With this model, you can set a program for the week, as well as two separate schedules for each of your weekend days. For example, if you typically run errands on Saturday, you might not want as much heating as you would when you stay home on Sunday.

7 Model
When you pick this model, you enjoy the most flexibility. It allows you to create a different program for each day of the week. If no two days feel the same in your home, you may wish to select this model to accommodate your busy schedule.

Install the Model Correctly
Now that you have a new thermostat, take the time to consider its installation. Where you put your new thermostat and how you install it has just as much effect on your savings as how you use it.

Choose the Appropriate Location
To maximize savings, you want your thermostat to take accurate temperature readings in your home. If your thermostat sits next to a drafty window or sunny skylight, it may read the room’s temperature as lower or higher by a few degrees. Place your thermostat in an area where natural air currents (cool air sinking and warm air rising) occur. Avoid placing furniture near your thermostat, as it will block these currents.

Follow the Manual
Although installation may seem simple at first, you'll want to carefully read the manual in its entirely before you mount the thermostat on your wall. If installation involves more than 10 wires, contact a professional to install it for you.

Consider Zoning Your Home
Your home likely has inconsistent temperatures throughout the building. For example, your living room with its large bay windows likely has more light and heat than your bedroom shaded by those gorgeous pines. Although a single thermostat can measure the temperature in your main room, it might have difficulty accounting for those other rooms.

To save more energy, have an expert zone your home, dividing it into two or more sections with a thermostat in each section and dampers in the ducts. This division allows you to send heated or cooled air where you want it the most.

Choose Appropriate Settings
Everything installed correctly? Good. Now you feel ready to use your thermostat. Use these tips as a general rule of thumb.

Select Reasonable Temperatures
Many homeowners misunderstand how thermostats work. They crank the temperature to 50 degrees a few minutes before they arrive home in hopes that the cooling will work faster. However, most heating and cooling units require at least an hour to reach a set temperature, and some require even longer.

If you require precise temperature control, consider a thermostat with adaptive recovery technology. These devices learn how your unit takes to cool your home so they can reach an ideal temperature in the most efficient time.

Avoid the Temptation to Override Manually
Programmable thermostats have a manual override button, which offers a great deal of convenience. However, you'll want to avoid this button as much as possible to ensure the most savings.

On particularly hot or cold days, don't give into the temptation to temporarily interrupt or adjust your settings. Each time you do so, you'll spend more money on utilities. Some experts estimate that if you run your heater one degree warmer over the course of a month, it will raise your heating by at least 3% for that month.

Plan for Vacation Time
If you plan to leave for a few days, don't waste energy heating or cooling your empty home. Instead, use your thermostat's hold/permanent/vacation setting to manage the temperature when you're gone. Set it to an efficient temperature for the season (several degrees warmer in summer or cooler in winter).

Need More Tips?
With the above tips and techniques, you'll see more savings on your monthly utilities. However, this list is far from comprehensive. For more ways to save, talk to your local HVAC technician. He or she can assess your home and recommend ways to improve energy efficiency.

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