One of the best ways to save money on your heating and cooling bills is simply resetting your thermostat when you are asleep or away from home. To avoid sacrificing comfort while this resetting, consider installing an automatic setback or programmable thermostat.
A programmable thermostat is used for adjusting the times of turning on the heating or air-conditioning according to a pre-set schedule. Multiple daily settings (six or more temperature settings a day) can be stored and repeated using programmable thermostats. You can manually override these settings without affecting the rest of the daily or weekly program.
Setting the thermostat at 68ᵒF while you are awake in the winter can save a good amount of energy. You need to set it lower when you are asleep or away from home. To save 5% to 15% in a year on your heating bill, you should turn your thermostat back 10ᵒ to 15ᵒ. It causes savings of as much as 1% for each degree for an eight hours long setback period. Buildings in milder climates experience greater savings from setback than buildings in more severe climates.
The same strategy will be perfect for you central air conditioning in summer. You can set the thermostat to 78ᵒF (26ᵒC) when you are at home and keep it warmer when you are away. Programmable thermostats are preferred over manual ones to avoid the discomfort of returning temperatures to normal before you wake or return home.
It is a misconception that a furnace needs to work harder to warm a space back after the setback of the thermostat and as a result, savings become less. In fact, the inner temperature of the house is directly proportional to the heat loss. Hence, you will save more energy if your house remains longer in the lower temperature.
Professionals mostly don’t recommend programmable thermostats for heat pumps. In cooling mode, heat pumps operate like air conditioners. So, turning up the thermostat (either manually or by using a programmable thermostat)will lead to saving energy and money. But, setting back the thermostat in during the heating mode of the heat pump causes the inefficient operation of the unit. Therefore any savings achieved by lowering the temperature setting gets cancelled out. Hence, the best practice is to maintain a moderate setting. Most companies are now selling specially designed advanced programmable thermostats with such algorithm to maintain an energy efficiency.
Thermostats that are capable of directly controlling 120-volt or 240-volt circuits are required in electric resistance systems, such as electric baseboard heating.
Due to the slow response time (up to several hours) of steam heating and radiant floor heating systems, some people suggest that setback is inappropriate for these systems. However, some manufacturers are now offering thermostats to achieve comfort along with efficiency according to your programmed time.
A normal programmable thermostat is good enough to set the temperature automatically for better savings. That just needs a bit of trial and error to get used to.
The most common types of thermostats are digital, electromechanical, or some mixture of the two. Maximum features related to multiple setback settings, overrides, and adjustments for daylight savings time. But, it may be difficult for some people to program them where as electromechanical systems are comparatively simple to program as they have pegs or sliding bars.
While programming your thermostat, consider your sleeping schedule, temperature preferences, schedules of everyone in the house, and the presence & absence of people in the house. It will help you to adjust the temperature properly to achieve better efficiency.
The performance and efficiency of your thermostat are dependent on its location. The best way to prevent “ghost readings” or unnecessary furnace or air conditioner cycling is following the manufacturer’s installation instructions. The thermostat can operate properly if it is an interior wall away from direct sunlight, drafts, doorways, skylights, and windows. The best place to keep it is where natural room air currents – warm air rising, cool air sinking – occur. Do not place furniture in front of or below your thermostat as they block natural air movement. Also, your thermostat must be conveniently located for programming.