Is a Programmable Thermostat the Answer to Your Energy and Cost-savings Dreams?

According to the Department of Energy, it just might be

The DOE has completed numerous studies over the years when it comes to advancements in thermostats. What they have reported is that you can save anywhere from 5% up to 15% per year on your heating bill if you were to switch to a programmable thermostat.1

The basic yet revolutionary concept of a programmable thermostat is that you program your HVAC system to run through manual set-up or through the use of motion sensors. This results in savings across the board (energy, efficiency, cost) because you are not running the system to heat or cool a room when nobody is in it.

Programmable thermostats: only for the tech-savvy?

To most people, the thermostat is seen as just a confusing little box on the wall, and odds are the majority of these people are using that little box in the wrong way. A study by the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab found that nearly 90% of Americans say they’ve rarely (or never) program their thermostat because they are not sure how to do it. You would think that people would want a solution that would allow them to program timed temperature settings, that way they did not have to mess with that box anymore, right?

Shockingly, the Washington Post reports that only 30% of American households have a programmable thermostat. Within that 30%, just over half of these households keep their programmable thermostats in “hold” mode, essentially making them function like the traditional thermostat. The programmable thermostat industry has recognized that some of the earlier models of their devices were unnecessarily confusing, and even product experts could not use them easily. In 2009, ENERGY STAR withdrew their approval from programmable thermostats once they realized they were too complicated for the average consumer to use.2

As a response, manufacturers designed a spectrum of programmable thermostats ranging from simple models to smart models that offer a variety of features and price points. In today’s market, programmable thermostats are no longer just for the tech-savvy, but tech-savvy consumers will have plenty of options if they want to have fun with their thermostats.3

Find your perfect fit: the different types of programmable thermostats

Houselogic provides a great description of the four types of programmable thermostats that you can use in your home, each of them varying by scheduling methods.

Seven-day Programming (Average price range is $55-$125)
This type of programming is best for individuals or families with erratic schedules, since this is the most flexible option on the market. This type of thermostat lets you program a heating/cooling schedule for every day of the week.

Five-one-one Programming (Average price range is $35-$78)
There is one heating/cooling schedule for the weekdays, and specific schedules for Saturday and Sunday.

Five-two Programming (Average price range is $28-$30)
There is one heating/cooling schedule for the weekdays, and one heating/cooling schedule for the weekend.

One-week Programming (Average price range is $20-$23)
There is one heating/cooling schedule for the entire week. 

Programmable thermostat best practices

In addition to these scheduling types, you will now find that you have the option to buy a smart thermostat that gives you the ability to control it from a smart phone or other electronic devices like a remote. This increases efficiency even more, as you can update your temperature(s) in real-time; the factors to consider when it comes to smart thermostats are that they can be expensive, and require a little bit of research about the technology.

Programming for seasonal changes will also help you save energy and money throughout the year. The DOE suggests the following setting to maximize savings on your energy bill: 4

Winter months

  • For the hours you are home and awake: 68º F
  • For the hours you are away or asleep: 60º F

Summer months (AC)

  • For the hours you are home and awake: 78º F
  • For the hours you are away or asleep: 85­º F


Have questions or concerns when it comes to programming your thermostat? Have a certified Commercial Service technician answer your questions, and give you advice or assistance in becoming more comfortable with your thermostat. Schedule an appointment with our easy Online Scheduling or by calling 812-339-9114.




Check out these related articles: Little Star, Big Meaning and Make Your Home Work for You: Smart Home Automation







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