How to Use a Programmable Thermostat
Installing a programmable thermostat is a simple way to improve the energy efficiency of your existing heating and cooling system. If you are away from your home for long periods of the day, a programmable thermostat allows you to set the temperature so that you’ll save energy during the times when your house in unoccupied but still be comfortable when you return home each day. By properly setting a programmable thermostat, you can save nearly $200 a year on energy costs.
Choosing the Right Programmable Thermostat
The most important consideration you’ll have to make is what your personal schedule is like. If you and your family are out of the house for regular periods of time—for work, for school, for family activities, etc.—then one of the three different types of programmable thermostat could be right for you.
7-day thermostats are a great choice if your schedule fluctuates from day to day, for example, if you have young children who are only in school a few days a week, or if you work part-time. These models let you set up to four different temperatures per day and allow for different programs on different days. 7-day models are the most flexible programmable thermostats.
5+2-day thermostats allow you to set one schedule for weekdays and another for weekends. These are perfect if you spend long periods of time away from home during the week and are around the house mostly on weekends.
5-1-1 thermostats are for the highly scheduled family. If school and full-time work keep you out of the house for long periods on weekdays, while activities and socializing take you away from home on Saturdays and Sundays, this type of thermostat gives you the flexibility to set multiple schedules for multiple days.
Selecting the right kind of programmable thermostat is the best way to ensure your family’s comfort and maximize your energy savings.
Getting the Most Out of Your Programmable Thermostat
If you want to install a programmable thermostat on your own, be sure to situate it away from heating and cooling vents, appliances, doorways, fireplaces, lighting fixtures, skylights and windows, and areas of your home that get lots of direct sunlight or are drafty. Interior walls are usually best.
Set the thermostat lower in winter and higher in summer for the periods of time when your home will be unoccupied the longest and overnight.
Most programmable thermostats have a “Hold” button. When you leave your home for an extended period—such as for vacation or an overnight visit—use the hold to keep the temperature steady while you’re gone without having to disrupt your normal schedule.
Try not to override your settings once they’re been programmed. Doing this forces your system to work overtime, this uses more energy and could inflate your utility bill.
If you have multiple heating and cooling zones in your house—like an upstairs area that is only used for sleeping, or a little-used finished basement—install a separate thermostat for each zone. This will help you maximize comfort and savings.
If your thermostat is battery-operated, be sure to change the batteries at least once a year. Many units even have automatic indicators or alarms that will let you know when the batteries need to be changed.