Control energy costs without sacrificing comfort by adjusting your heating and cooling settings
By Paula Felps
For most Americans, utility costs represent a significant portion of their household expenses. According to Energy Star, a joint project of the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy, the average household pays out more than $2,200 a year on energy—and about half of that is spent on heating and cooling.
One solution to high costs is a programmable thermostat, which lets you control your home’s heating and air conditioning when you’re asleep or away from home.
The key, according to Energy Star, is to create a program that automatically reduces heating and cooling in your home when it isn’t as necessary.
How to program your thermostat
While sales of programmable thermostats are on the rise, it’s not enough just to buy them—they have to be used and programmed properly. To get the most out of your thermostat, Energy Star recommends:
- Make sure it’s properly installed.
- Use the pre-programmed settings—overriding them will end up costing you more money.
- Keep the temperature set at its energy savings set-points for long periods of time (at least eight hours), periods when no one is home, and through the night, after bedtime.
- Make sure you change your batteries regularly.
Programmable thermostats have been around for many years now, and they’re becoming more sophisticated. EcoFactor, a California-based company, has added a new dimension that is currently being tested in Texas. The company makes software that manages thermostat controls based on the weather, manual input from the homeowner, and the home’s unique physical characteristics. By managing the temperature based on all these variables, EcoFactor says it may reduce utility costs by 20–30 percent a year.