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Are You Using Your Programmable Thermostat Correctly?

A programmable thermostat is a wonderful solution for living more energy efficiently and saving money all year long—but not if you don’t use it correctly or even bother to program it! Believe it or not, too many homeowners don’t use their programmable thermostats correctly because they don’t know how or think it’s too complicated. But it’s not!

We want everyone to feel comfortable operating their thermostat, which is why we wrote this blog post. While this post will provide an overall guide and some quick tips, please don’t hesitate to call professionals for more detailed help—your local HVAC company or the manufacturer of your thermostat.

Types of Programmable Thermostats

Are you in the market for a new programmable thermostat? There are multiple types:

 

  • 7-day: This provides the most flexibility, allowing you to program a different schedule for each day of the week.

 

  • 5+2-day: This type of thermostat uses the same schedule every weekday, and another for weekends (Saturday and Sunday are the same).

 

  • 5-1-1: This type of thermostat has one schedule Monday through Friday and another schedule on Saturdays and Sundays.

Most programmable thermostats are either digital, electromechanical, or some combination of the two. Digital thermostats offer the most features in terms of multiple setback settings, overrides, etc. Electromechanical systems often involve pegs or sliding bars and tend to be easier to program.

Using Your Thermostat

Do you have a programmable thermostat and aren’t sure how to operate it? Let’s start with the basics. As you probably already know, programmable thermostats allow you to adjust the times you turn on the heating or air conditioning according to a pre-set schedule. Programming options are based on sleep/wake time and leave/return time.

In the colder months, set the temperature to 68 degrees while you’re awake and lower than that when you’re asleep or away from the house. During the summer, follow the same rule—set the temperature to 78 degrees and turn it set it for higher when you’re asleep or away from the house. The smaller the difference between the indoor and outdoor temperatures, the lower your overall cooling bill will be.

Thermostats usually have two types of hold features: hold/permanent/vacation and temporary. Don’t use the hold/permanent/vacation feature to manage daily temperature settings—this should only be used when you’re planning to be away for an extended period of time. Set this feature at a constant, efficient temperature (a few degrees warmer in the summer and a few degrees cooler in the winter) when going away for the weekend or on a longer trip. You’ll waste energy if you leave the “hold” feature at the comfort setting while you’re away.

Programmable Thermostat Tips

Here are some additional tips from the U.S. Department of Energy and ENERGY STAR®:

 

  • Placement matters. To operate properly, a thermostat must be on an interior wall away from direct sunlight, drafts, doorways, skylights, and windows. It should be located where natural room air currents–warm air rising and cool air sinking–occur. Also, furniture can block air movement, so do not put any in front of or below the thermostat.

 

  • Spend time playing around with the programming for a few days to make sure it feels right. It may require some guesswork at first, but the trial and error will help you save energy and money in the long run.

 

  • Avoid setting your thermostat at a colder setting than normal when you turn on your air conditioner. It will not cool your home any faster and could result in excessive cooling and, therefore, unnecessary expense. Same concept with heating—a furnace does not have to work harder to warm a house after the temperature has been set low during the day, so there’s no point in cranking it up high.

 

  • Programmable thermostats are generally not recommended for heat pumps, especially in the winter. When a heat pump is in heating mode, setting back its thermostat can cause the unit to operate inefficiently, canceling out any savings gained by lowering the temperature setting.

 

  • If you like to sleep at a cooler temperature during the winter, start the temperature setback a bit ahead of the time you actually go to bed.

 

  • You can temporarily make an area warmer or cooler without erasing the pre-set programming. This override is cancelled automatically at the next program period. Keep in mind that you use more energy (and money) if you consistently “hold” or over-ride the pre-programmed settings.

 

  • If you want to be able to control your home’s temperature on the go, a Wi-Fi enabled thermostat is the best option. Honeywell’s Wi-Fi Smart thermostat has a simple menu that walks you through all the programming steps. It also “learns” your home and will send you personal notifications if the temperature is not right.

 

  • If your thermostat runs on batteries, be sure to change them annually. Watch the video below for a quick tutorial:

Cooling Services in Central Jersey

It’s going to be a warm summer—so make sure you program your thermostat correctly to stay comfortable while also saving money. Arctic Air Conditioning is happy to help you choose the right thermostat for your home and get it programmed correctly. Contact us to schedule an appointment!

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