The truth about programmable thermostats

Feb 15, 2019
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The truth about programmable thermostats

by Sarah

With the extreme cold this winter, it’s more important than ever to find ways to save on heating costs. A simple way to do that is to use a programmable thermostat.

A programmable thermostat can save you up to 10 percent on heating and cooling costs. But even with those savings in mind, you might have doubts if it’s really worth it to make the switch. Here are a few common questions to help you figure out if a programmable thermostat is for you.

What is a programmable thermostat?

A programmable thermostat allows you to create a pre-set schedule for the temperature in your home. For example, in the winter it could automatically turn the heat down every morning when you leave for the day, and then crank the heat back up while you’re on your way home so you can walk into a warm house.

Won’t it cost more to heat a cold house up instead of just keeping it at a consistent temp all day?

You’re not the only one to wonder that, but contrary to popular belief, it’s not the case. Here’s how the Department of Energy explains it:

A common misconception associated with thermostats is that a furnace works harder than normal to warm the space back to a comfortable temperature after the thermostat has been set back, resulting in little or no savings. In fact, as soon as your house drops below its normal temperature, it will lose energy to the surrounding environment more slowly. The lower the interior temperature, the slower the heat loss. So the longer your house remains at the lower temperature, the more energy you save, because your house has lost less energy than it would have at the higher temperature. The same concept applies to raising your thermostat setting in the summer -- a higher interior temperature will slow the flow of heat into your house, saving energy on air conditioning.

What temperature would I need to set it at to save 10 Percent a year on my heating and cooling costs?

To get a 10 percent savings, you would need to turn your thermostat back 7-10 degrees for eight hours a day from its normal setting. The DOE recommends setting your thermostat to 68 degrees while you’re awake and setting it lower while you’re asleep or away from home during the winter. In the summer, the DOE recommends setting the thermostat to 78 degrees when you’re home and then setting it to as high a temperature as comfortably possible when you’re away or sleeping.

There are a lot of options in the thermostat aisle. How do I choose one?

There are two basic categories of programmable thermostats: digital and electromechanical.

  1. If you want lots of features like multiple setback settings, overrides, and adjustments for daylight savings time, go with a digital one.
  2. If you want to keep it simple, go for an electromechanical system. It’s simple to program, and has sliding bars that make it pretty painless to make changes.

Whether you have a programmable thermostat or a traditional one, we’re here to help you make it through the rest of the winter. Give Service Guard a call at 800-504-2000. We’ll give you the peace of mind that your heating system is ready for the next winter storm.