Why install a Programmable Thermostat?

You can reduce your energy use and save money
on your heating bill – usually 5 – 10%! 

What if you were going to be away for a couple of months this winter? One of the first things you might think to do is to turn down the heat before you go. After all, it doesn’t make sense to keep the house as warm as you might if you were there. You’d be wasting energy and money and needlessly adding extra CO2 to the atmosphere.

The same logic applies even for shorter times, like when you are away at work and the kids are in school. It even applies when you go to bed. Why keep the whole house that warm when you are snuggling in your warm bed? You can do this yourself by turning down the thermostat – but there is one big disadvantage to that – when you get up or come home you have to wait while the house warms up.

A programmable thermostat can do this automatically. It can turn the heat down when you typically go to bed or to work and turn it up again before you get up in the morning or home from work or the kids get home from school.

Since heating our homes is one of our largest parts of a family’s energy use, it has a big impact on our budget and our carbon footprint. Everyone should be taking this simple step to eliminate this unnecessary waste of energy.

Myth 1:

It takes as much energy to warm the house up as it does to keep it warm so why bother to turn it down?

The Facts:  You save energy and money even turning the heat down for a few hours because the cooler the house, the slower it loses heat!

In our climate, you can save 2% of your heating bill for every degree you lower your heat. If you turn your heat down for part of the day or night you save a little less but it is still worth doing!

Let’s take an example:
Turn your heat down from 68 to 62 while you are in bed and at work. If it was 6 degrees reduction all day every day you would save about 12% on your heating bill. But because it is only at night and during the week day you would save about 7%! The best part? You would still be as warm as you were before!!

If your annual heating bill is $1800 your savings could be $120/year – if your bill is higher your savings will be higher!

Myth 2:

Installing a programmable thermostat is very complicated.

The Facts: 
a) An average homeowner who is used to doing projects around the house can do it.  
b) Most people have a handy friend who could help them if they don’t feel up to trying  
c) Most handymen could do it for a relatively small amount ($35-$50). 

Most thermostat manufacturers have very clear directions that, if followed carefully, will result in an easy installation. There are also many videos on the web that can walk you through it. Here are a few examples:

This Old House: How to Install a Programmable Thermostat In this how-to video.

You can do a Google search about installing the brand and model thermostat you just bought and may find a video showing exactly how to install that unit. Try “[brand name] thermostat installation video” in the Google search box.

Here’s are two tricks to make sure you put the wires in the correct place. Either snap a photo of what color wires go with what terminals, or put little tags on the wires noting the letter on the old thermostat terminal before you take each one of the wires off. These tags will ensure that you put every wire on the proper terminal on the new thermostat.

Do Not Completely Unscrew The Terminal Screws From The Old or New Thermostats! Back them out enough that you can slip the wire off the terminal on the old unit and then wrap the wire in a clockwise direction around the screws in the new unit. Then screw them back in tight.

If for some reason the new thermostat doesn’t work as expected just reinstall the old one putting the wire with the matching tag on the correct terminal of the old one.

Please be careful with your old thermostat. Some contain mercury. Take them to the CSWD location on Landfill Rd for safe disposal.

Myth 3: 

Programming a programmable thermostat is very complicated.

The Facts:

  • An average homeowner who can use a TV or Cable Box remote control can program a thermostat. 

There are 3 basic things to be programmed into a basic programmable thermostat:

  • Today’s date
  • Today’s time (be sure to get the am/pm correct)
  • The schedule and temperature that you want the house over the course of a week.

Try to find the instruction booklet that came with your thermostat. If you can’t find it or if you need additional help, you can do a google search about programming the brand and model thermostat you just bought and may find a video showing exactly how to program that unit. Try “[brand name] thermostat programming video” in the Google search box.

Here’s a TIP: Set the temperature to go down about 15 minutes before you leave or go to bed to save a little extra. Similarly, set the scheduled time for the heat to go up 15 – 30 minutes before you get home or get out of bed so you arrive or awake to a cozy house.

Stumped? Ask a handy friend who could help you if you can’t figure it out yourself .

Follow the instructions and start saving money and the planet!