How to: Use a Programmable Thermostat in Your Home

How to: Use a Programmable Thermostat in Your Home

A programmable thermostat makes it easier for you to save energy by offering specific settings to regulate temperatures in your home while accounting for variables including, time of day, seasons and your schedule.

Using standard settings, homeowners will see a significant savings in energy since more than half of the money spent on powering a household goes to heating and cooling costs. In fact, installing and correctly using a programmable thermostat can help you reduce your home utility bills by as much as $180 a year. Now that’s what I call savings!

If you’re thinking about purchasing and installing a programmable thermostat, here are some things you should know:

Options: Typically, thermostat models come in a variety of schedule functions. Homeowners’ with schedules that change daily can opt for models that allow the flexibility to set separate settings for each day of the week, based on whether you’re home or away. For those with more consistent schedules, 5-day models offer the option to keep the same settings throughout the week while switching to different settings for weekends. Depending on your preferences and home needs, programmable thermostats can range in price from $20 to a few hundred dollars. While $20 will get you a basic model, more advanced models have some other handy options you may want to consider:

  • Digital, backlit displays
  • Touchpad screen programming
  • Voice, mobile phone and/or Wi-Fi programming
  • Hold/Vacation features
  • Indicators which tell you when it’s time to change air filters
  • Indicators that signal malfunctioning of heating/cooling systems
  • Adaptive Recovery/ Smart Recovery features that senses the amount of time it will take to reach the next set-point temperature

How to Install and Program Your Thermostat:
Before installing your programmable thermostat, be sure to shut down your electricity and read the instructions that accompany the thermostat of your choice.

Select a location on an interior wall in your home. The location should be away from heat or air sources that could impact temperature readings.

As you develop a schedule for your thermostat, you should take into consideration when you’re normally away from your home and when your family typically goes to sleep. A sample schedule might look like this:

Winter Weekdays:

  • 6am – 9am: Thermostat is set at 68°F
  • 9am – 5pm: Thermostat is set at 55°F
  • 5pm – from 10pm: Thermostat is set at 68°F
  • 10pm – 6am: Thermostat is set at 60°F

*** Setting your home’s thermostat to 68°F during winter  and turning the thermostat back 10°–15° while you are asleep or at work can save about 5%–15% a year on your heating bill—a savings of as much as 1% for each degree if the setback period is eight hours long. In the summer, you can follow the same strategy with central air conditioning, too, by keeping your house warmer than normal when you are away and lowering the thermostat setting to 78°F when you are at home and need cooling. *** 

Other tips:  
Programmable thermostats are a low voltage wiring project and involve anywhere from 2–10 wires, depending on your type of heating and cooling system. If your home requires a more extensive installation or you’re concerned about risks involved with installing electrical equipment, consider contacting an HVAC professional.