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Is a Programmable Thermostat for You?

One of the big tips I often read about for cutting your bills is to install a programmable thermostat in your home. And they can certainly be convenient. But are they for everyone?

I’ve lived with and without one. Many times, they have indeed been a good idea. If your home gets too cold at night, for example, it’s nice to have the house warming up a little before everyone has to get out of bed.

On the other hand, I currently don’t have one and don’t feel the need. I work at home, so I’m here all the time, and I know quite a bit about how much heat I tend to use in winter, and how much air conditioning I use in the summer.

Not a whole lot, actually.

Being in southern California, we don’t get the extremes that other places do. Our hottest is pretty hot, but our coldest is nothing compared to a lot of places. That means sweaters do an awfully good job of keeping me and my family warm in winter. It’s a lot cheaper to warm our bodies than to warm our house.

In summer we learn to adapt to the heat. That and fans allow us to minimize the use of an air conditioner.

Of course, I’m not at all opposed to programmable thermostats for most people. Many places you quite simply do need to heat or cool your home, and it’s probably on a predictable schedule. It saves a lot of trouble to have the thermostat turn itself up and down by the times you are going to need the house to be a particular temperature.

We can all forget little details like turning down the heater before leaving, after all. And that wastes a lot of energy. Much better to have it turn itself down at those times that you know you won’t need it.

Even if you have one, of course, you should be considering ways to use less heat and air conditioning, depending on the season. Even a few degrees difference in how you set it can save you quite a bit of money. How much you do depends on personal tolerance.

4 Responses to Is a Programmable Thermostat for You?

  1. Some days I wish we had one but we don’t. I am hoping when we move that we can either put in one. I would like to have one, makes it easier to get out of the bed, lol.

  2. I agree that most people don’t even need to turn their heat on that much, but they choose to do. I have a ceramic heater that I use in my bedroom and it keeps me warm at night. I make to only use it before I go to sleep to heat the room up. Other than that, I keep the heat on very low during the winter and it high during the summer.

  3. I always heard that those things cost more because of the roller coaster ride they cause in the temp – does anybody have any numbers to show as far as savings? I’ve always wondered if I should get one.

  4. No more a roller coaster than if you’re turning your thermostat up and down as appropriate during the day. This article on Energy.gov may help you: http://www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?c=thermostats.pr_thermostats

    To quote:

    The average household spends more than $2,000 a year on energy bills — nearly half of which goes to heating and cooling. Homeowners can save about $180 a year by properly setting their programmable thermostats and maintaining those settings.