Increase Your Air Conditioning System's Efficiency And Save Money With A Programmable Thermostat

You have a new air conditioning system humming away in your home. You've had the duct system checked out, the window and door seals redone and you avoid setting your thermostat temperature too low. But, your air conditioning energy bills are still higher than you would like. One easy solution is to go to websites and have a programmable thermostat installed. This device will maximize your air conditioning's efficiency and still keep you comfortable. At the same time it helps you save money on that energy bill.

What is a Programmable Thermostat?

On a regular thermostat you change the setting whenever the inside temperature is not to your liking. A programmable thermostat allows you to input multiple settings that will change throughout the day. For example, if you normally leave for work at 7:00 am and don't get home until after 5:00 pm, you can program the thermostat so your air conditioning system remains off during the day. Set the "turn on" time so that the house is comfortable when you arrive home. This scenario works for the heating part of your system as well. According to Energy Star, an organization that certifies energy efficient appliances, you can save roughly $180 per year in energy costs by using one of these devices.

Different Models for Different Lifestyles

In addition to having digital or analog readouts, you can choose the thermostat model that best suits your schedule. Figure out how often you, and your family, are away from home and then choose from three basic types. All are programmable for seven days. The difference is in how those days are divided up.

Seven-Day Schedule Thermostats

The seven-day thermostats tend to work best for families where the parents have a work schedule and the children tend to have a staggered school schedule. The device allows you to set different programs for each day. For example, if you son has soccer practice on Tuesday and Thursday and gets home later those days, the thermostat can be adjusted to reflect this.

Weekday and Weekend Schedule Thermostats

These thermostats differentiate the workday schedule from the weekend schedule. This model works if you have roughly the same schedule during the week and a different one for weekends.

Weekday, Saturday and Sunday Schedule Thermostats

Similar to the previous model, this thermostat works for those with the same weekday schedule but who have a different schedule on Saturday and Sunday. For example, if you are an empty nester that spends most of Saturday on the golf course, you can program your system to accommodate your absence.

Getting the Most Out of Your Programmable Thermostat

Having a professional install your programmable thermostat is the best way to insure maximum efficiency and savings. Your heating and air conditioning contractor will know that the thermostat shouldn't be installed near heating or cooling registers, or in places that get direct sunlight or are subject to drafts. There are a few steps you can take on your own to get the most out of your investment.

  • Set the thermostat at energy-saving temperatures at bedtime as well as for when you are out of the house. 
  • Programmable thermostats have a "hold" button. This overrides the usual programs and puts the device into energy saving mode while you are gone for the weekend or on vacation.
  • Try to resist overriding your settings. Using more energy means a higher energy bill. Get the family on board so they know to leave well enough alone. 
  • If your thermostat uses batteries, don't forget to change them regularly. Some units have low battery indicators, similar to those steady beeps put out by smoke detectors that need attention.   If you change your smoke alarm batteries each spring and fall solstice, add your thermostat to that change list.