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Managing Your Thermostat to Control Energy Costs

A basic programmable thermostat can be a homeowner’s best friend. These handy tools give homeowners the ability to set heating and cooling preferences for comfort and increased savings. A 7- to 10-degree temperature change can lead to a 10% decrease (or increase!) in energy costs. With the right settings, you can get the most out of your heating and cooling system throughout the year.

Consider these tips for maximizing energy savings with your programmable thermostat:

1.    Discover your thermostat’s capabilities. Today, most homes feature basic programmable thermostats. Like other electronics, you’ll find a range of thermostats available in the marketplace with different features and functionalities. Homeowners may want to consult a user-manual or talk to an HVAC professional to understand options for personalized settings.

2.    Keep program intervals long. To gain the most benefit, strive to program your thermostat for intervals of eight hours or longer. Consider adjusting the temperature up or down during the day when household members are at school or work and then again during the night for optimal energy savings.

3.    Follow recommended adjustment patterns. To see meaningful changes in energy consumption, strive to increase or decrease thermostat settings accordingly. Start from the highest (summer) or lowest (winter) comfortable thermostat setting and then increase or decrease the temperature depending on home activity levels. For example, you may want to increase the temperature by 10 degrees during the day in summer, but only increase it by four degrees at night to maintain a comfortable sleeping environment.

4.    Change the batteries. If your thermostat uses batteries, change them annually to ensure the programmable system maintains its settings.

5.    Go even higher or lower to increase savings. Every degree of thermostat adjustment can increase or decrease energy consumption. Instead of relying on the most comfortable thermostat setting, consider a setting two or three degrees away from “ideal.” Supplement your system output with alternative methods to stay warm or cool.

In the summer, turn off unnecessary lights and close curtains to block heat. Use ceiling fans to circulate air. In winter, use blankets and wear sweaters instead of bumping the thermostat settings up.

A programmable thermostat can make energy saving a simple “set and forget” process. After learning the system and adjusting thermostat settings for your household, keep an eye on your energy bills. While other variables including weather patterns, home insulation, and location can affect total energy costs, these simple thermostat adjustments often yield noticeable savings.

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