Homeowners do not use their air conditioning units very well. This is almost a universal truth that costs people a lot of money over time. If you would like to avoid this fate, your first step is to buy a programmable thermostat. With a little analysis of your needs and the options available, you can find the right thermostat for your home. But, once you have it, using it properly will lead to those savings you hope for.
When it comes time to choose a programmable thermostat, you should decide which features you need, and which ones are unnecessary. Basic models allow you to create specific settings throughout the day. Most options offer a different program for weekdays and another for weekends. If you have a schedule that changes from day to day, with different requirements for air conditioning as a result, you need a thermostat that can accommodate daily changes. Almost any model should work with your air conditioning system, according to Consumer Reports. However, to avoid wasting money, you should ask your HVAC contractor to confirm that the programmable thermostat you want fits your equipment.
Smart Programmable Thermostats
Beyond the basics, the sky is the limit on optional features you can add to your programmable thermostat. The latest technology is "smart," and allows you to have a more efficient system. For example, some thermostats will figure out your preferences without your need to create specific settings. Just adjust the temperature as you wish for a few days, and the thermostat will create settings based on your use. Some smart models offer adaptive intelligent recovery. The U.S. Department of Energy's Energy Star program reports that units with this feature track the rate at which your HVAC equipment cools or heats your home. Then, the thermostat triggers the equipment so that your home reaches your desired temperature by the deadline you set.
These thermostats offer a number of convenience features, as well. Depending on the model, you may be able to adjust settings as needed via your computer, smart phone or tablet. However, smart programmable thermostats present a much higher cost than thermostats with fewer features. When you schedule routine A/C service with your HVAC contractor, ask about the thermostats that are ideal for your home and your needs.
Using a Programmable Thermostat
Once you find the right programmable thermostat for you home, you need to use it appropriately. Otherwise, you will continue to overtax your air conditioning unit and you may not see much savings on your utility bill. The Energy Star program reports that homeowners can save up to 30 percent on their utility bills by installing and using a programmable thermostat. But, most people are not using their thermostats wisely. In a recent study, the Energy Center of Wisconsin revealed that as much as 30 percent of homeowners with a programmable thermostat do not actually use the settings. And, 50 percent of homeowners in the study simply adjusted the thermostat manually on a daily basis.
To prevent this, you must take control. Read the manual and create your initial settings. Do not hesitate to adjust them in the first few days as you figure out what works for your house. But, once you find the right settings, leave the thermostat to do its job. You will see the most difference in energy usage if you:
- create settings in eight-hour blocks
- avoid exceptionally high or low temperatures
- adjust the temperature by only 3-4 degrees per setting
Above all, sensible use of your air conditioning system will lead to the greatest savings. You should not turn your home into a refrigerator in the heat of summer. Use your thermostat as just one part of the cooling package, instead of the only thing to cool you off.
Programmable thermostats make your life easier, if you let them. Click here to find the right features for you, and then learn to use them wisely. Your HVAC systems will thank you.