white thermostat hanging on the wall

Programmable Thermostats: Do They Save Energy?

If you’re like most people, your thermostat is set to the same temperature all day. You might be surprised to learn that programmable thermostats can save energy by automatically adjusting your home’s heating and cooling system based on the time of day, weather conditions outside, and whether anyone is home. This article will explore how these devices work as well as when it’s best to use one for maximum savings!

What is a programmable thermostat?

A programmable thermostat (also known as a digital thermostat, smart thermostat, or programmable radiator thermostat) is a small electronic device that is designed to remotely control your central heating or cooling system. Programmable thermostats are available in both wired and wireless configurations. There are both mobile and non-mobile models, with the mobile models being the ones that usually require installation on your heating and cooling system. 

What exactly does a programmable thermostat do? Depending on the model, programmable thermostats can regulate temperature in one of three ways: changing your home’s temperature control circuit by adjusting the desired temperature for different rooms within your home by controlling heating and cooling for individual rooms or zones.

Different types of programmable thermostats

According to the Department of Energy, homeowners can save up to 20% on heating and cooling costs if they switch to a programmable thermostat. Different kinds of thermostats can do this, however. Over-the-Range (OTR) thermostats allow you to adjust your thermostat up or down several degrees throughout the day. This type of thermostat is best for homes with heating and cooling systems that run continuously. The downside is that you have to work out an electrical code with your electrical supplier to have the thermostat work with your system. Feed-In thermostats work like an ordinary thermostat, but instead of using electricity to operate, they use the heated or cooled air flowing through them to operate.

How do programmable thermostats save energy?

While it’s tempting to simply turn off the furnace when you leave the house or shut off the air conditioner when you get home from work, this might actually cost you more money than it saves. In order to do so, you’d have to run the AC or furnace almost constantly during the daytime, and then turn it on only when you return. This is counterproductive for two reasons. First, it’s costly to run the air conditioner or furnace much more frequently, when you could use the heat instead to warm up your home. Second, using your AC or furnace excessively could damage or wear out these devices. Using these thermostats instead can keep the entire home comfortable and energy-efficient.

Using the programmable thermostat in your home

Most programmable thermostats come with a fixed schedule programmed into them. Typically, this schedule involves a schedule for when your HVAC system should kick on and off and how long to heat or cool your home at each setting. For example, a programmable thermostat might turn on your furnace in the morning at the set temperature and run for a few hours, then turn off after a few hours to conserve energy. Most programmable thermostats will also have a preset “away” temperature that the furnace should run at, but the reason you program the timer is to program your own “on” and “off” times. Additional devices on your heating and cooling system Most programmable thermostats work with sensors installed in your heating and cooling system.

Is it “worth it”?

As far as investments go, a programmable thermostat will certainly pay for itself – sometimes in less than a year! If your home or building will be unoccupied for several hours out of the day, then a programmable thermostat makes a lot of sense; however, there is the chance you may have to sacrifice a certain level of comfort. This being said, the benefits far outweigh the potential downside – remember, you can always wear a sweater!

shiny window above radiator in new apartment

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