Programmable Thermostats – How to Get the Most Out of Yours

Programmable thermostats have been touted as an easy way to lower energy costs. In fact, most consumers believe that installing a programmable thermostat can save them as much as 10-30% on their energy costs. The Energy Information Administration has estimated that about 42% of home energy costs are consumed by heating and air conditioning and New England residents can expect heating and cooling to amount to as much as 60% of their home energy usage, so the idea of installing a programmable thermostat makes sense for anyone wanting to reduce their monthly utility bills.

According to a 2007 RLW Analytics report prepared for the New England-based energy company GasNetworks, the actual average savings associated with the use of programmable thermostats was estimated to be between 6.2% – 6.8%.

1968: Honeywell W884 Comfort Control Center programmable thermostat.

Although programmable thermostats have the potential to significantly reduce your energy usage and costs, the key to realizing those savings is knowing how to program your unit.

So, the question is – How do you get the most out of your programmable thermostat?

Programmable Thermostats – Theory vs. Fact

Many consumers assume that turning their thermostats down at night and re-heating their homes the next day uses more energy than keeping their homes in a constant comfort range 24/7 during the winter months. However, according to a 1978 research paper written by Nelson and MacArthur, this is not the case.

In actuality, each degree of Fahrenheit that you turn your thermostat down for a period of eight hours each night results in a decreased energy usage of 1%. So, turning your thermostat down from 78 degrees to 75 degrees will result in the use of approximately 3% less energy.

Get the Most Out of Your Programmable Thermostat


2011: Nest Wi-Fi enabled, self-learning programmable thermostat.

To get the most savings possible from your programmable thermostat, you need to follow a typical energy-efficiency program. For example: During the summer, set your thermostat for 75 degrees while at home and turn it off while you’re away.

During the winter, set your thermostat at 70 degrees while you’re awake and lower the temperature while sleeping or away.
You can also heat and cool individual rooms. If you typically spend a great deal of time in a couple rooms of your home, utilizing a space heater or room-sized air conditioner can result in greater savings than heating or cooling your entire home.

As you can see, there is much room for improvement when comparing the actual energy savings associated with programmable thermostat use and the potential savings that you could be seeing. To close this gap and get the most savings, develop an energy-efficient plan for heating and air conditioning that is comfortable for you and your family based on your climate and stick with it.

Properly programming your thermostat to heat and cool only when necessary eliminates the guesswork, and delivers greater savings over the long run.

Is your programmable thermostat not providing the comfort and energy saving you expected? Call us today to schedule a service call. (401) 320-4624

Skip to content