Programmable Thermostats

Reviews of digital programmable thermostats

Recommended Settings for Programmable Thermostats

Energy Star was set up in 1992 by the Clinton Administration. It was formed through collaboration between the US Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Energy. Since its inception the Energy Star system of labeling household electrical appliances that typically save 20% to 30% more energy than other similar appliances has been adopted by Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Taiwan and the European Union.

Despite controversy surrounding Energy Star’s use of unverified data and its testing procedures for fridges (with the ice maker turned off), the organization has set out clear and helpful guidelines for setting your programmable thermostat so as to make the biggest savings on monthly cooling and heating bills and to reduce the carbon cost of a home.

Below are Energy Star’s recommended programmable thermostat settings:

Winter (heating)

Wake 6am – ? 70° F
Day 8am – set back at least 8° F
Evening 6pm – ? 70° F
Sleep 10pm – set back at least 8° F

Summer (cooling)

Wake 6am – ? 78° F
Day 8am – Set up at least 7° F
Evening 6pm – ? 78° F
Sleep 10pm – Set up at least 4° F

Expected Savings

The savings you can make from following these recommended set points depends on local utility rates and also climatic conditions in your region. However, on average if a homeowner pays an annual fee of $2,200 for heating or cooling he or she can expect to save $180 from using Energy Star settings on an Energy Star approved device.

All the programmable thermostats featured on this website have been approved by Energy Star. It should also be noted that although we list devices that are under $30 we recommend getting a slightly more expensive device that has better functionality. These functions improve home comfort and energy efficiency, and considering you save $180 a year the extra expense is soon recouped in energy savings.

More about Best Settings for Programmable Thermostats

The above is just an example. It obviously has to be tailored to your needs. For example, I don’t need the heating or cooling to start at 6am because I don’t get up until 8am. Moreover, I leave the house at 9am so that is when I set the ‘day’ setting to start. I get home at 5.30pm, so this is when my evening setting starts. I go to bed at midnight so this is when I start the ‘sleep’ setting.

As regards the recommended temperatures, people might complain that 70° F is not warm enough in the winter and that 78° F is not cool enough in the summer. These are probably people who enjoy wearing shorts and t-shirts in the house in the winter and sweaters in the house in the summer. For the sake of saving both money and the planet from global warming suitable clothes for the season should be worn.

Moreover, improving home insulation will better retain heat in the winter and better stop heat getting in the home in the summer. Adding awnings to south facing windows and using shades or curtains has an appreciable effect in stopping solar gain. Other important measures are installing uPVC or vinyl windows; blocking drafts and holes, using a fan in the summer and putting insulation in the roof space.

You will find that as you improve your energy efficiency habits and start to see the monetary rewards you will try to set back the thermostat settings a notch or two to make further savings.

Thermostat Settings and Functions

It is important to remember to change your set point times if your schedule changes. Also when the clock changes. Honeywell thermostats make instant changes for daylight saving.

One function that you need to discover whether your programmable thermostat has or not is smart response. This is also called adaptive intelligent recovery and smart recovery. It is a function that starts the heating or cooling early so that the home is the right temperature for the start of a programmed period. To find out more about adaptive intelligent recovery see the post of that name. This function means that you don’t have to start the heating or cooling early so that you get home or wake up to a comfortable environment. It is important to know this before you make your program choices.

Another function to watch out for is temporary hold. This allows you to override the programmed settings if you are too hot or too cold or have changed your routine. Most good programmable thermostats will maintain the new settings until a new program period. This is worth checking. If the pre-programmed settings are not automatically returned to then you could end up leaving the heating or cooling on too high all night or all day while you are out.

Why Bother?

Even if saving money is not a high priority for you, then the added comfort a good programmable thermostat can bring will no doubt still interest you.

On a serious note, global warming is getting worse not better. New estimates place the disappearance of the arctic ice cap at just 2020. Rising sea levels, hotter and more irregular weather patterns will affect us all. The rich will not be immune to the devastating effects of global warming. Since the wealthy enjoy an ocean view it is likely that they will be impacted considerably.

The only chance we have to prevent eco disaster is to count our carbon dioxide emissions. The residential sector accounts for a large proportion of America’s entire energy bill, and much of that is taken up with indoor climate control. This electricity mostly comes by burning fossil fuels in power stations. Thus, the best way to reduce the carbon footprint of a house is to use less electricity and this means improving home energy efficiency. One of the best ways to do this is to install a programmable thermostat.

Sat, June 2 2012 » Environment