As outdoor temperatures start rising during the summer, the experts at Arc Angel Electric talk with many homeowners in the Atlanta area, including other parts of Georgia and South Carolina, about ways to reduce energy costs. A programmable thermostat is one of the most affordable upgrades to your HVAC system, but exactly how much can you save on your utility bills with this little device?
Average Cost Savings With a Programmable Thermostat
The average household saves about 10% on energy costs each month with a programmable thermostat. With normal use, this means that you can save up to $150 per year on your utilities, so the device pays for itself in less than 12 months. If you tend to run your heating and cooling system throughout the day and night, you may see even higher savings after you install a programmable thermostat.
How Does a Programmable Thermostat Save Money?
The savings come from reducing the indoor temperature by about 5° to 10° for at least eight hours each day. You can certainly do this with a manual thermostat, but chances are that you’ll forget to change the setting. You also don’t want to walk into a warm house at the end of the day. A programmable thermostat can be set up with a schedule so the device adjusts the temperature automatically. You can even program it to change the temperature 30 to 60 minutes before you arrive home.
Can a Programmable Thermostat in an Older Home Save Money?
If you have an older home in the Atlanta area, the HVAC system may not be as energy efficient as newer models. When you install a programmable thermostat, you may see a slight decrease in energy use. Upgrading your HVAC equipment will help you see even greater savings each month.
Programmable thermostats may not save money on energy costs in every home. If you have a heat pump, an automatic thermostat can reduce energy use during the summer, but not in the winter. Heat pumps are designed to be highly energy efficient on their own, and a programmable thermostat may counteract any savings from the main unit. If you do have a heat pump, the professionals at Arc Angel Electric can recommend programmable thermostats that are specifically designed for this type of HVAC system. Steam heat, radiant floor systems, and baseboard heating are other types of heating and cooling systems that may not work well with programmable thermostats.
Thermostat Settings and Energy Costs
When you set your programmable thermostat to a temperature that is only slightly cooler than the outdoor temperature, the AC unit runs less often and for shorter cycles. Following this practice when you aren’t home means reduced energy use and savings every month.
Avoid Significant Temperature Adjustments to Save Money
Another way that a programmable thermostat saves you money is by keeping your home at a relatively comfortable temperature setting during the summer. When most people come home to a house that is too warm, they typically adjust the thermostat to a setting that is much lower. It is a myth that doing this cools the house faster. In fact, it takes just as long for the AC to reach a comfortable temperature inside your home, so you don’t save any time or money with this practice. A programmable thermostat automatically adjusts to the desired temperature before you arrive home
Choosing Your Thermostat
There are two basic types of programmable thermostats – semi-mechanical and digital. Both can save you money when they are used as directed by the manufacturer. Semi-mechanical programmable thermostats have fewer features, and you make adjustments with a slider. This style may be better for your home if you are uncomfortable with advanced technologies. Digital programmable thermostats have a full range of features, such as connectivity with your smart devices, time zone adjustments, and overrides. Make sure that the thermostat is compatible with your HVAC equipment.
Set up a Schedule on Your Programmable Thermostat
A programmable thermostat is only effective in reducing energy use when it is programmed correctly. At Arc Angel Electric, we recommend that homeowners in Atlanta set the schedule to reduce or increase the temperature at least two hours before you go to bed. Also, set it to change the temperature again about two hours before you wake up in the morning. If your house is empty for at least three hours during the day, set the schedule to change the temperature during this time.
When you first have a programmable thermostat installed in your Atlanta home, the experts at Arc Angel Electric will demonstrate the steps to set up the schedule. Some programmable thermostats use a standardized schedule for every day of the week while others can be set up with different schedules for each day. There are also programmable thermostats that learn your routine and set up the schedule for you. Let us know your needs, and we will recommend the best programmable thermostat for your home. Once you set the schedule, let the thermostat operate for a few days. Try not to make any adjustments.
Positioning a Programmable Thermostat to Maximize Energy Savings
Where you install your programmable thermostat will affect how well it reduces energy use. If the device is installed in a poor location, it may not get an accurate temperature reading inside your home. This can cause the HVAC system to cycle on and off more often than necessary, and you may not see any reduction in your energy use. The ideal place to install a programmable thermostat is on a wall that is well within the interior of your home. It should also be out of direct sunlight, as this can affect the temperature reading. Lastly, make sure that it is installed in an area with little to no furniture, such as a hallway. Furniture affects airflow, and this may cause an incorrect temperature reading on the thermostat. If you are unsure of where to install a new programmable thermostat, the experts at Arc Angel Electric can help.
Consider a Smart Thermostat to Save Money
Although programmable and smart thermostats are designed to reduce energy consumption, there are some key differences between these two styles. With a programmable thermostat, you have to set up the schedule manually. This can be challenging for many Atlanta homeowners. A smart thermostat has the ability to “learn” your routine for heating and cooling your home. All you need to do is adjust the temperature as you normally do. After a few days, the thermostat understands your habits and automatically sets up a schedule for you. You can adjust the schedule and override it should your habits change. The cost savings are similar for programmable and smart thermostats, but you will spend less upfront for a programmable thermostat.
Experts in Programmable Thermostats
Arc Angel Electric specializes in residential electrical services for the Atlanta area and throughout Georgia and South Carolina. We can help you find the best smart thermostat for your home. We offer installation services as well.