Setback Thermostats: Are They Worth It?

Setback thermostats, also known as programmable thermostats, are worth their weight in gold. According to the Department of Energy, homeowners spend an average of $2,200 annually on energy bills, including heating and cooling. Aside from the mortgage and taxes, heating and cooling costs are likely to be the largest expenses associated with the home. Homeowners can save about 8% per year (about $180) by using a programmable thermostat to control the heating and cooling appliances in the home.
On winter mornings, the programmable thermostat can raise the temperature of the home before you wake, making the prospect of getting out of bed more agreeable. You can set the temperature to be anything you like, but you’ll each degree will increase (or decrease) your heating bill by about 3%.
68°F was a standard that was set in the mid-1970’s as being the norm for indoor temperatures in the winter, but some homeowners keep their thermostats set lower – to 65°F or 66°F for the little time they’ll be active before they leave the home on winter mornings. In the summer, consider setting the A/C to 78°F.
How far should you allow the temperature to fall (or rise) in your home while you’re at work? That’s a subject that’s up for much debate. The Department of Energy recommends that you allow the temperature to fall at least 8°F in the winter (or rise at least 7°F in the summer) while you’re away. If you stick with the normal temperatures of 68°F in the winter and 78°F in the summer, you’ll set your thermostat to fall to 60°F in the winter and rise to 85°F in the summer. Allowing the temperature to vary beyond that could save you money, but your heating and cooling plants will work harder to return your home to a comfortable temperature.
The programmable thermostat will enable you to set the system to prepare for your return, and will also enable you to drop (or raise) the temperatures at night. The Department of Energy recommends that you allow the overnight temperature to drop by at least 8°F in the winter and raise by at least 4° in the summer.
Generally, you can find programmable thermostats that will allow you to maintain a separate program for each day of the week. Lower-cost models allow you to program one schedule for the workweek and a separate schedule for the weekend. Finally, some thermostats allow you to program for the workweek and operate separate schedules on Saturdays and Sundays.
Boston Standard Plumbing can help you determine which programmable thermostats will work best for your heating and cooling systems.