How to Maximize Savings Using a Programmable Thermostat
Whether you live in a region that requires you to heat your home in the winter, cool it in the summer, or both, you’re likely well aware of the outrageous energy and gas bills you can end up paying as a result of keeping your home at a comfortable temperature throughout the year. If you’re lucky, you live in a temperate climate that doesn’t change much from season to season. But few of us are so lucky. In this case, you’re probably interested in finding ways to beat the summer heat, weather the cold winds of winter, and hopefully keep your budget in check for the duration. You can certainly start with upgrades to an energy efficient furnace and AC unit. But if you’re going to shell out major money up front in exchange for savings down the line, you should do all you can to optimize your HVAC system. And this includes installing and using a programmable thermostat.
There’s a lot you can do to maximize savings on your home heating and cooling costs when you use a programmable thermostat appropriately. And you’ll want to start by following the U.S. Department of Energy guidelines. The first directive is to keep your thermostat set no higher than 68 degrees F in the winter and no lower than 78 degrees F in the summer. From there, you should schedule your thermostat to account for times when the family is away or asleep – in other words, when they won’t be able to enjoy the bought air. You are advised to adjust the temperature 10-15 degrees for at least 8 hours a day. And this process could net you as much as 15% in savings off your utility bills right off the bat.
Of course, you can also do a lot more to get the most from your programmable thermostat and your HVAC system. You may want to start with a home energy audit that can pinpoint problems areas in your structure. From there, you can stop energy waste by sealing leaks and addressing insulation issues, making your home more airtight and energy efficient. Then you should think about whether or not a zoning system might be right for your home.
Is your basement cold and damp in the winter? Do your upper floors start to feel like an oven under the assault of the afternoon sunshine during the summer? Do you freeze on the main floor when you’re trying to cool the upper floors? All of these are indications that your structure features separate zones, all of which have their own heating or cooling needs. With a zoning system in place to complement your programmable thermostat, you’ll never again have to deal with areas of the home that are uncomfortable temperature-wise. And you’ll likely save money in the process.
One final option that is sure to maximize the benefits of a programmable thermostat is the use of alternative energy. When you make the switch to clean, green, sustainable energy sources (solar panels, residential wind turbine, a geo-exchange, etc.) you create a far more efficient indoor environment, helping to ensure that the energy you do use for heating and cooling won’t result in utility bills that leave you in debt until next year.