It’s the time of year when we switch from cooling down with the AC to warming up with the heater. You go to the programmable thermostat and tap the “heat” button. If that’s where the process ends you’re missing a golden opportunity to save energy. You’ve heard programmable thermostats can save a bundle on heating costs, but it’s not clear how the saving happens.
Here are seven ideas on how to use your thermostat this fall and winter to save energy and stay comfortable.
Get Comfortable With Your Programmable Thermostat Settings
Can you believe a study from Carrier found only 47% of homes had their thermostat in program mode? The majority were actually in “hold” mode. In that setting, your programmable thermostat is essentially a manual one.
Programmable thermostats can be confusing devices. Don’t worry, even thermostat experts like Therese Peffer from the California Institute for Energy and Environment at the University of California Berkeley says she gets confused by some thermostats. Before you set up a fall and winter heating schedule, take a few minutes to learn the terminology for the options and what you can program. Many thermostats allow you to create a unique schedule for an individual day, the weekend and certain times of the day. There’s also the infamous hold and vacation modes. If your manual isn’t handy look it up online using the thermostat’s model number.
Keep the Thermostat Around 55-60° F When No One is Home
The lower you can keep the heat during the day, the more you will save. The magic number is 55-60 degrees Fahrenheit when the house is empty. At this temperature, your home is closer to the outside temperature and the heating system won’t have to work so hard. During the fall on nice, temperate days it may actually warm up more than that inside without the use of the heater.
*If you have pets, keep the temperature around 64 degrees.
Keep the Thermostat Around 55-60° F When You’re In Bed
When you’re snuggled up in bed under a warm comforter you’re less likely to notice if the thermostat is set a few degrees cooler. The recommendation is to set the thermostat to 60 degrees or a little lower at night when you’re asleep. Lowering the temperature slightly actually helps you sleep better because your body temperature drops when you’re asleep.
Set the Temperature Back at Least 8 Hours
The Department of Energy knows a lot about proper thermostat settings. Their research has found you can save up to 1% on annual heating costs for every degree you lower the temperature – if the temperature is set lower for at least eight hours.
Schedule the Thermostat to Increase the Temp 30 Minutes Before You Get Home or Wake Up
It doesn’t take long to warm up a home, even if you dropped the temperature to 58 degrees or lower while you’re away. To avoid getting frostbite the moment you get home without wasting energy, schedule the thermostat to bump the heat up 30 minutes before you arrive.
Only Bump the Temperature Up to 68 Degrees When You’re Home
If you crank the heat up to 80 degrees when you get home, it could cancel out the energy savings of scheduling the thermostat to turn the temperature down while you’re away. The closer you can keep it to 68 degrees, the more energy you’ll save. Plus, heat loss is slower the lower the temperature is inside.
Do 68 degrees feel a little chilly? Add a light layer of clothing or use blankets for extra warmth. A hot drink can also make you feel warmer. Another option is to use a humidifier to put more moisture in the air, which makes it feel more comfortable. During winter, humidity levels can be as low as 10%. A humidifier can help you keep it at an ideal 30-50% humidity inside. Bonus – a humidifier can also help improve winter ailments like dry skin, chapped lips, bloody noses and respiratory problems.
Use a Moderate Setting If You Have a Heat Pump
Approximately 1.3 million homes in cold and very cold regions have a heat pump. Because of the way heat pumps are designed, setting your programmable thermostat to drop the temperature to 55-60 degrees during the day can cause it to run inefficiently. It’s so inefficient it negates the savings of keeping it cooler inside. With a heat pump, it’s best to use a moderate setting like 68 degrees all day long.
At Provider Power we can’t set your programmable thermostat for you, but we can provide helpful advice on how to save energy during the fall and winter. We also offer competitively priced electricity plans in Maine, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts so staying comfortable is affordable even when you bump the temperature up.