Program Your Thermostat and Save

While most individuals already know about the programmable thermostats, you’d be surprised how many people either don’t have one or don’t use them. This is one of the easiest things you can do to save money in your home! It’s a set-and-forget item with which you rarely ever have to interact.

First things first: How much can you save? For every 1 degree setback, you can save 3% on your heating and cooling cost. This translates into a 10% savings for every 8-hour setback of 10 degrees, which is a good amount of savings for not doing anything but going to work for 8 hours! The EPA figures that a standard homeowner will save $180 per year following their guidelines for setbacks. These savings translate into a payback of around 6 months for the installation of a programmable thermostat if you do it yourself.

Do you want to put a new thermostat in, but you don’t know which to use? There are three basic types, and each family will have a different preference. Here’s the breakdown:

1. 7-day: If you have different schedules for every day of the week, then this is for you. This type allows for customization for every day.

2. 5+2 day: If you have the same weekday schedule and another for the weekend, then this is your selection. This type allows you to make one setting for the weekdays and another for the weekend.

3. 5+1+1 day: This one works for individuals who have one schedule for the weekdays and another for Saturday and Sunday. You can make one setting for the weekdays and then separate ones for both Saturday and Sunday. This works well for individuals who have activities on the weekends but have set schedules during the week.

Now that you have one picked out, how do you install it? You can either have a licensed HVAC technician perform the work, or you can do it yourself. Evaluate your skill level and read the instructions. Most thermostats will only require you to unplug the wires from one unit and reinstall them in the same spots on the new. Remember, this is low voltage, but still turn off your power to the unit.

Once it’s in, you need to know how to program it. I typically recommend setting temperatures at 68 F in the winter and 78 F  in the summer when you are home, and cut them back as much as possible during the day and at night. Below is an example of a weekday schedule.

Seal your duct work.

Duct leakage is one of the most costly leaks in the home. Have a professional check your ducts and properly seal them using mastic – not tape. Duct tape was created in WWII to use as a means to keep ammunition cases sealed and dry, not to seal ducts, as many believe. It can become brittle over time and lead to severe leaks. If you have duct tape, get your ducts checked and properly sealed using mastic.

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