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How Does a Programmable Thermostat Save Energy?

As the name implies, programmable thermostats can be programmed so that your home’s temperature changes throughout the day.

Because you can set temperatures to change automatically, programmable thermostats have the potential to save on energy costs—as long as you use them correctly.
In this article, we’ll explain:
  • How programmable thermostats save energy
  • How to choose the right programmable thermostat for your needs
  • How to program your thermostat for the most savings
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How programmable thermostats save energy

With programmable thermostats, you can set your home’s temperature to automatically turn back when you don’t need the normal temperature (i.e., when you’re asleep and at work).

How does this save energy?

Well, Energy.gov states that you could save up to 10% on your heating and cooling bills by turning your thermostat back 7°–10° from the normal setting for 8 hours a day. Even turning your thermostat back a few degrees helps you save on energy.

You see, the closer your home’s temperature is to the temperature outside, the less your system runs. Less cooling/heating = more energy savings.

Let’s look at an example of how a programmable thermostat can save energy.

Say you keep your home at 74° on an 85° summer day in New Jersey. With a manual thermostat, you have 2 options:
  1. Leave the thermostat at 74° all day.
  2. Manually bump the temperature up before you go to work and then back down when you get home (returning to a hot house, mind you).
With a programmable thermostat, your unit’s schedule could look something like this:
  • 8:30 am – You leave for work and the thermostat goes from 74° to 82° (remember, 7°–10° for the most energy savings).
  • 5 pm – Your thermostat starts cooling your home to 74° so you come home to a comfortable house.
  • 9:30 pm – You go to bed and the thermostat goes from 74° to 76°.
  • 7 am – You wake up and the thermostat goes back to 74° so you’re comfortable while you get ready for work.
Most programmable thermostats have 4 program periods per day—meaning you can set the temperature to change 4 times throughout the day.


How to program your thermostat for maximum savings

Using your programmable thermostat like a manual one won’t give you much energy savings. To properly use programmable thermostat, follow these steps:
  1. Set the program periods. Since most units have 4 program periods, we recommend programming your thermostat schedules based on:
    • When you leave for work (or your kids leave for school)
    • When you get home from work (or your kids get home from school)
    • When you go to sleep
    • When you wake up
  2. Hold for times you’re away. Like a manual thermostat, you’ll want to use the “HOLD” button to hold the temperature when you’re away from home from long periods of time. That way, you won’t waste energy cooling an empty home.
  3. Buy a thermostat for each zone. If your home has zoned heating or cooling system, you’ll need a programmable thermostat for each zone to get the most energy savings.
  4. Tweak your schedule. Finding the programmed schedule that works best for you (and saves you the most energy) will involve some fine tuning.

Choosing the right programmable thermostat

To get the most energy savings, it’s important to select a programmable thermostat that can meet your schedule demands.

You have 3 options to choose from with programmable thermostats:
  • 7-day model. Best for households with schedules that change daily, this model gives you the most flexibility, with the option to customize your temperature schedule every day of the week.
  • 5-2 model. This is a good option if you have consistent weekly and weekend schedules. With this model, you can program one schedule Monday–Friday and another for Saturday and Sunday.
  • 5-1-1 model. Like the 5-2 model, this option is good for consistent weekly schedules, as you can program one schedule Monday–Friday. But, you get a little more flexibility with this model than the 5-2 one, since you can program separate schedules for Saturday and Sunday.

A 5-2 model programmable thermostat

Wondering how much a programmable thermostat costs? Check out our article, “How Much Does it Cost to Install a Home Thermostat in New Jersey?”.


Want more info about programmable thermostats?

Give us a call at (732) 681-9090 or contact us online.

We’ll answer any questions you have. When you’re ready, we’ll send one of our Comfort Specialists to your home to discuss your needs, give you a free consultation and install your programmable thermostat.

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