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Do Programmable Thermostats Save you Money?

Updated on September 30, 2015

Considering a Programmable Thermostat

Are you considering a programmable thermostat as a way to reduce your energy bills? If you are, read on and see the benefits of installing one in your home.

Saving Money with Programmable Thermostats

Do programmable thermostats save money? Simply put, yes they do. A programmable thermostat automatically adjusts the temperature at times you set. Set it to drop a couple of degrees at night or when the house will be empty during the day, like when everyone is gone to work/school. By doing this you'll be using less energy to heat your home. You can set it to start warming your house 20 minutes or so before you will be up in the morning or back in the evening so that your house is at a comfortable temperature when you want it to be.

Programmable thermostats also tend to keep the temperature closer to the set point than traditional dial thermostats. The temp control rating on a programmable thermostat is usually +/- 0.5 degree while the cheaper dial thermostats vary the temperature a lot more. This means that if the temperature were set to 20°C the thermostat will turn on the heater when the temperature gets to 19.5°C and turn it off when the temperature reaches 20.5°C. A cheaper thermostat that is set at 20°C may allow the temperature to dip as far as 18°C before it turns the heater on and may not turn the heater off until the room reaches 22°C. This results in people constantly adjusting their thermostats.

Because the temperature stays closer to the set point you'll be more comfortable. Also, because the temperature only dips half a degree below the set point you'll be less inclined to crank it up.

Exactly how much you'll save is difficult to tell. Some companies claim the their thermostats will save you up to 33% on your heating cost. While I find this a little hard to swallow I have noticed an approximate 10% dip in my bill since installing these in my home along with some other measures I've taken.

Choosing a Programmable Thermostat

If you're looking to replace an old thermostat with a programmable one there are a few things you will need to consider. The first is what kind of heating system you have. A furnace usually requires a low-voltage thermostat but a baseboard heater will need a 120 / 240 Volt thermostat. If you are buying one for a baseboard heater it's also important to make sure that the power rating is high enough. The wattage of a baseboard heater is usually indicated on a small tag on the heater. Sometimes more than one baseboard heater is wired to a single thermostat. You'll have to add the power ratings together.

Programmable thermostats will usually be either a 5/2-day or 7-day. A 5/2-day will allow different settings for weekdays and weekends while the 7-day allows for different settings for each day of the week. Pick whichever one suits you lifestyle best.

One thing I try to avoid is choosing a thermostat that requires batteries. Although they tend to last quite a while in a thermostat you don't need the added expense or worry that they might run down while you are away on vacation.

Programmable Thermostat Rebate

Many utility companies and some government agencies offer rebates for reducing your energy consumption. All it usually takes is completing a simple form and submitting it along with the receipt to get a rebate for your thermostat. The rebates are usually in the $5 to $10 dollar range but everything helps.

Additional Benefits of a Programmable Thermostat

Along with energy savings and increasing the comfort of your home there are some additional benefits to installing a programmable thermostat.

  • Reduced energy consumption means reducing your carbon footprint if your power comes from a fossil fuel burning plant.
  • Programmable thermostats add to the value of your home. This may help you sell your home down the road or get a little more money on the sale.

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