Should I Install a Programmable Thermostat?

by Erik North on January 27, 2011

programmable thermostat


Programmable thermostats provide several benefits to homeowners (provided they use them but we’ll get to that). Easy to install and fairly inexpensive, programmable thermostats are helpful in regulating temperatures during the day, saving money and increasing comfort. As a good rule of thumb, for every 8 hours you reduce the thermostat temperature by 1 degree, you reduce your heating bill by approximately 1%. That adds up to quite a bit of savings!

A lot of customers ask me what temperature they should set their programmable thermostat to. Also, how many degrees should the temperature be turned down? What times make use of the programmable thermostat’s capabilities? Does turning the temperature down on a programmable thermostat really save money?

Should I Install A Programmable Thermostat – Advantages

  • Using Less Energy – The most significant benefit of using a programmable thermostat is the ability to preset the temperature during the day or night. By using the heat or air conditioning less when away from home, less energy is used which in turn leads to savings on the energy bill.
    According to DTE Energy, for every degree the thermostat is set below 72 degrees, a person will save approximately 3 percent on his energy bill. By programming the thermostat lower while away from home, it is possible to save significantly with no inconvenience. Ahh, but as we’ll see, programming it and using it…that’s the thing.

  • Controlling Temperature – It is possible to set the heat at a lower temperature during the day while away from home but program the thermostat to set the temperature higher shortly before returning home. This allows for energy savings during the day, but also the comfort of a warmer home upon arrival.
  • Increased Comfort – A programmable thermostat allows for increased comfort on winter mornings as well. By setting the temperature lower overnight, it is possible to save significantly. The program can be set to run a half hour before getting up making it possible to get up in a warmer home.
  • Should I Install A Programmable Thermostat – The Big Disadvantage

  • Programmable Thermostats Work…But Don’t Save Energy
  • That’s great news! Programmable thermostats really work! Uhh, hold your oversized ponies. There’s no question that setting the temperature and running your heating system and/or air conditioner less will save energy and money.

    But it turns out that study after study after study (this link summarizes a few different studies) has shown that programmables alone do not save money. User behavior like in many things determines results, in this case homeowners predisposed toward savings will save.

    40 years ago restaurants offered steak and potatoes. That’s it. If you wanted to eat healthy, it was salad time. Today you can’t throw a stick without hitting a pleasant variety of healthy low cal entrees. So … healthful food options means healthier people, right?

    Uh, no. Rates of obesity and diabetes are at all time highs. All the possibilities of improving your diet doesn’t matter if you order a deep fried bacon cheddar potato with lard vinaigrette and a bacon wrapped hot dog. The same logic applies to thermostats.

    So…the answer to ‘should I install a programmable thermostats’? Absolutely install a programmable thermostat but like with any tool they need to be used correctly.

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