Programmable thermostats are highly touted, and deservedly so. But you won’t automatically save energy and save money simply because you have one installed.
Savvy homeowners will learn all the ins and outs of their programmable thermostats, develop strategies for using them, and make sensible adjustments based on the information their thermostats provide.
Picking the Right Programmable Thermostat
Various thermostats have different capabilities, and you should study your options carefully to make sure you select one with the right package of features.
Here’s what to look for:
- Diverse scheduling options
Some thermostats let you program each day individually, while others have separate settings for weekends and weekdays, or one unitary setting to cover the whole week. Presumably, you’ll save more money and more energy if you can program each day of the week individually, based on your personal habits, but if you have a consistent schedule that may not be necessary.
- Learning capacity
Newer, so-called “smart” programmable thermostats can decode your home comfort habits and program the operation of your HVAC system automatically in response (with override options available, of course). This could be ideal if your activities and home comfort preferences are stable and predictable, or if you worry that you’ll forget to program your thermostat on your own.
- WiFi capability
Smart thermostats with WiFi connectivity give you 24-hour control of your home environment, regardless of where you are in the world. All you need to do is install the appropriate thermostat app in your smartphone or tablet, and once you learn to use it you’ll be all set to go.
WiFi capability will add to the expense of your thermostat, but if you are a detail-oriented person you’ll likely gain maximum energy efficiency from having a unit that gives you minute-by-minute control over the functioning of your heating and cooling system. This is perfect if you have an unpredictable schedule and are often uncertain about when exactly you’ll be arriving home.
Theoretically, a programmable thermostat with WiFi capability offers peak energy and money savings, but that is only true if you are prepared to exploit the WiFi feature for everything it’s worth.
- Additional perks
Some smart programmable thermostats directly monitor the activity of furnaces, air conditioners and heat pumps, and they can give you warnings if there is a decline in performance or any other sign that suggests maintenance or repairs are needed. In addition to connecting with home heating and cooling equipment, many smart thermostats can also be connected to humidifiers or dehumidifiers, allowing you to customize their operations as well.
Before purchasing any programmable thermostat, you should familiarize yourself with all its capabilities to see if it offers any extra benefits you might find attractive (and profitable).
Tips for Using Programmable Thermostats
Most programmable thermostats come with factory settings, but you must take control of them yourself if you expect to gain maximum benefits.
Here are some tips that will help you get the most bang for your buck when you invest in a programmable thermostat:
- In summer or winter, set your thermostat 7-10 degrees higher than you normally would for at least 8 hours a day. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, you’ll save 10 percent on total energy costs by following this advice.
- Program your thermostat to keep the home at least 10 degrees warmer or cooler than normal while you sleep.
- When programming the thermostat for the overnight hours, set it so it will begin reducing or raising temperatures one hour before you to bed, and set it to begin reversing the process 30 minutes before you are scheduled to awake in the morning.
- For the best combination of money savings and acceptable comfort, the Department of Energy recommends setting your thermostat at 78 degrees during waking hours in summer and at 68 degrees during waking hours in winter. Naturally, your comfort preferences may vary.
- Temperatures should be kept 10-15 degrees higher or lower than normal when you are away from home. To make sure this doesn’t compromise your comfort, program the thermostat to activate your HVAC system 20-30 minutes before you leave the home, and/or 20-30 minutes before you arrive. Of course, if you have a programmable thermostat with WiFi connectivity you can make the latter adjustments from wherever you are.
Many people are intimidated by what they perceive to be the complexity of programmable thermostats. But if you take the time to read the user’s manual and experiment with its different features, you’ll soon figure it out.
Your HVAC contractor is a valuable resource as well, and you shouldn’t hesitate to ask them questions about how to use—and get the most out of—your new programmable thermostat.
Learn More about Programmable Thermostats from Rheem Pro Partner
In Colorado and Wyoming, Rheem Pro Partner is the unsurpassed expert in home comfort technology. Please contact us today to learn more about programmable thermostats, and about your affordable options for purchase and installation.
Our homes are becoming ‘smarter’ every day. Most of the newer small appliances you purchase have Wifi built in and can be controlled with remotes, smartphones, or a tablet. Why shouldn’t you have the same access to your heating and cooling system? With a WiFi Smart Thermostat, you can control the temperature of your home from anywhere, as long as you have access to the internet.
Why would you want to do this? Let’s say you go on vacation. Most of us turn down the thermostat while we are gone to save money on the heating bill. However, that means that when you get back, you have a chilly house. If you are returning from a tropical getaway, ‘chilly’ will seem more like ‘cold.’ With a WiFi Smart Thermostat, you can turn up the heat right before you get on the plane home and know you’ll arrive at a comfortably warm house without the extra heating costs.
How do WiFi Thermostats Work?
The difference between a WiFi thermostat and a traditional thermostat is its ‘brain.’ A Wifi Smart Thermostat connects to your home’s router through your WiFi and receives its instructions from an app you download to your devices. Rather than walking over to the control box on the wall, all you have to do is pick up your smartphone and adjust the temperature. There are even models on the market that respond to voice command.
Apart from the input, a WiFi thermostat turns your heating and cooling system on and off in the same way that your old thermostat did. It connects to the HVAC system with wires and cycles the unit depending on the ambient temperature.
Honeywell WiFi Thermostats
To better understand the benefits of using a WiFi Thermostat, let’s take a look at what Honeywell offers.
You can program your thermostat with the push of a button using any smartphone or tablet.
Anwer a series of questions and the thermostat will intuitively pick the best program based on your needs and the upcoming forecast. Yes, it can adjust to changes in the weather.
Peak Hours Savings
A Honeywell smart thermostat accesses records from your utility company and uses them to determine the hours when electricity is most expensive. A Honeywell WiFi Thermostat uses that information to adjust your heating and cooling schedule to minimize energy consumption during that time.
You might say that the Honeywell thermostat can ‘learn.’ Over time, it will keep track of which temperatures you program each week. As trends develop, it will start adjusting the controls for you based on experience. This feature can be turned off if needed.
WiFi Thermostats provide convenient control of your heating and cooling system from anywhere there is an internet connection. Plus, it can save you money on your utility bill.
If you live in Colorado or Wyoming, contact one of the thermostat experts at Rheem Pro Partners to learn more. They can ensure that the thermostat is properly installed and set-up for maximum comfort and savings.
Owning and operating a home can be expensive, but one way to save money is to save energy. Saving energy doesn’t have to mean huge sacrifices in comfort or quality of life. Today, many savvy Colorado and Wyoming homeowners take these simple steps to keep their homes operating efficiently and economically. By giving a little attention to your HVAC system, including your air conditioner, furnace, water heater, and heat pump, as well as addressing other common energy guzzlers, you can save, too!
Here are 10 steps you can take today:
1. Turn down the temperature of your water heater to the warm setting (120 degrees).
Most water heaters come from the factory with a default setting of 140 degrees. Lowering the setting to 120 degrees not only saves energy, it also prevents scalding. This is especially important in homes with young children.
2. Make sure your water heater has an insulating blanket.
Installing an insulating blanket is a quick, inexpensive fix that will pay for itself within a year in energy cost savings.
3. Make sure your air conditioner, furnace or heat pump receive professional maintenance each year. Look for the ENERGYSTAR label when replacing your system.
Regular professional maintenance can save you thousands of dollars over the life of your HVAC system by preventing costly breakdowns, as well as by keeping your equipment operating at peak efficiency. When it is time to buy a new system, the ENERGYSTAR label will help you determine the models that are most energy efficient. This is an important consideration when making your buying decision because it directly impacts the overall cost. As a general rule, purchasing the most efficient system you can afford will give you the greatest savings over time.
4. Replace your incandescent lights with compact fluorescent lights (CFLs) or LEDs.
CFLs and LEDs are more expensive to purchase than the standard incandescent bulbs but can save three-quarters of the electricity used. Start by replacing incandescents that are 60-100W and are used several hours a day.
5. Turn off the lights in unoccupied rooms.
Consider installing timers, photo cells or occupancy sensors to make turning off lights in empty rooms and spaces effortless.
6. Turn off your computer when you are not using it.
Turn off the monitor if you aren’t using it for more than 20 minutes, and turn off both the CPU and the monitor if they won’t be used for more than 2 hours.
7. Unplug equipment that drains energy when not in use.
Many appliances use energy even when they are not turned on such as cell phone chargers, fans, televisions and coffee makers.
8. Install a programmable thermostat.
A programmable thermostat is an inexpensive device that makes your HVAC smart by only heating and cooling your home when you need it. While you are at work or school during the day or sleeping at night, the temperature setting adjusts so your home is comfortable, but you are not paying for energy that you don’t need.
9. Clean or replace filters in your furnace, air conditioner, and heat pump.
Replacing (or cleaning) your air filters every 30-60 days (depending on need) will keep your system clean and efficient, and help prevent unnecessary wear and tear.
10. Caulk leaky windows and doors.
Improve the comfort of your home and stop paying for wasted energy by sealing air leaks and adding sufficient insulation.