Manual Thermostat Vs. Programmable Thermostat

Thermostats control the temperature in your home: When the indoor temperature rises above or drops below the thermostat setting, your air conditioner or furnace starts up.

With manual thermostats, you must adjust the temperature setting yourself, which adds a level of inconvenience and potential discomfort. For example, in the winter, if you turn down your temperature at night, you then wake up in a cold house. Also, during any season, it’s easy to forget to adjust your thermostat when you leave for the day. Nevertheless, a manual thermostat is equally effective in energy savings as a programmable thermostat – if you remember to adjust it diligently.

Programmable thermostats allow you to maximize your energy savings without compromising on comfort. A programmable thermostat adjusts temperature settings for you according to your preferences. By maintaining your comfort level temperature for only four or five hours a day, the thermostat pays for itself in energy savings. The most up-to-date programmable thermostats allow for up to six temperature settings per day and have batteries to maintain your settings even in the case of a power outage.

Home Climate Control Best Practices

The best way to ensure thermostat efficiency is by programming (or manually adjusting) your thermostat to a higher temperature (or lower, in winter) while you’re away from home during the day and while you’re sleeping at night. In the summer, only lower your thermostat to 76°F (24°C) when you’re at home or need to cool off. During the winter, set your thermostat to 68°F (20°C) in the same pattern.

Allowing your home’s temperature to climb (or dip) for as little as four hours a day translates into significant savings on your utility bill. For example, during the winter, turning back your thermostat by 10° to 15° for eight hours saves you anywhere from 5% to 15% a year on your heating bill – a savings of as much as 1% for each degree. The same applies for summer cooling, as well. The percentage of savings is even greater in milder climates.

The location of your thermostat also matters. Thermostats should be placed far enough away from vents or radiators to prevent “ghost readings,” and placement should always follow the manufacturer’s installation instructions. Finally, always place thermostats away from direct sunlight, drafts, doorways, skylights and windows.

Thermostat Misconceptions

One common misconception about thermostats is that lowering the temperature in winter (or raising it in the summer) saves you little or no money, since the furnace (or AC) must work harder once the setting changes back to a comfortable temperature. However, this isn’t true. The longer your house remains at a lower temperature, the more energy you save.

Another widespread misconception is that your furnace puts out more heat when the thermostat is set higher. Again, this isn’t the case. Furnaces put out the same amount of heat no matter the setting – they just run longer if the setting is higher. So, you can’t warm your house up quicker just by raising the thermostat setting.

A Note for Heat Pump Owners

When using a heat pump for home heating, setting back the temperature on your thermostat might not be saving you money. Instead, maintaining a moderate setting is the most cost-effective practice when heating with a heat pump. Only recently have manufacturers made specially designed thermostats for heat pumps that allow you to set back the temperature without losing energy efficiency. (However, when using a heat pump for summer cooling, turning up the temperature still saves you on energy costs.)

With the right thermostat schedule, home climate control is easy, and you don’t have to concede on comfort. Put these thermostat tips and practices to work for your home this season and you’ll notice the difference on your energy bill.

Have more questions on how to set a thermostat? Click below to talk with a Comfort Consultant from On Time Experts about what thermostat options and settings are best for your home and keep comfortable this season without raising your utility bills.

Meet the Author
Randy Kelley
Randy Kelley


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