You don’t have to have a smart thermostat to increase the energy efficiency of your home, but having one will do a lot of the work for you. If you’re trying to save some money this summer, but don’t want to upgrade your whole system you can still save money by tweaking some of your older thermostats settings.
Most thermostats will have scheduling functions where you can set different temperatures for different times. If you don’t have scheduling don’t worry, there’s plenty of ways to save money manually. If you’re like me then you’ve probably been avoiding your thermostats advanced features like you owe it money, but if you take a little time to set it up, it can actually save you quite a bit of money.
When you’re scheduling in times, you should set it 30 minutes or so ahead of time to give your thermostat time to change the actual temperature. So if you know you’re going to be coming home from work at 5pm in the summer time, you should set your thermostat to start cooling your house down around 4:30pm.
Make sure you know what temperature is the most comfortable to you. Depending on where your thermostat is located, 72 degrees in the summer can feel completely different that 72 degrees in the winter. It’s good to do some testing and keep track of what temperatures you like. Keep in mind that even a one degree difference can improve energy efficiency in your home, so when testing it’s good practice to tick your thermostat one degree at a time.
If your thermostat allows programming, this feature is going to save you the most money on your electricity bill. Take into account all the times that your house is normally empty, even if it’s just for an hour or two. Remember to give your thermostat a 30 minute grace period.
If you’re going on vacation remember to turn off your thermostat. It might be a good idea to program in your return date and have your AC turn on; otherwise you might come back to a pretty uncomfortable situation. If you have pets, consider only running your thermostat during the day.
If it’s a nice day outside you might consider turning off your AC. But, even when it’s nice outside it can get a little stale and uncomfortable inside. Fortunately, most thermostats have a circulate air mode without actually running the AC. This, combined with opening some windows can keep your house cool without the cost of running AC.
Saving Energy with a Non-Programmable Thermostat
If you’re stuck in the middle of having an old thermostat and not wanting to spend money on a smart thermostat, there are still a few ways you can save on energy. If you live in a really hot or cold area of the US though, you should really consider installing a smart thermostat.
“Nest Labs actually did a study and released a white paper on their findings. It’s an interesting read, and the short of it is that they found a 10-12% savings on heating and 15% savings on cooling, or about $131-145 in savings a year.” — M.B. Grant
Installing a nest in your home for example is likely to pay for itself in a year or so, but there are still ways to keep energy costs down manually by following a few simple guidelines:
- Keep curtains and blinds drawn when you aren’t home
- Turn your thermostat up a bit when you sleep and use your ceiling fan
- If you leave for vacation make sure you turn your thermostat off
- When you leave for more than an hour, turn your thermostat up by 8-10 degrees
A Few Extra Tricks
Even if you have a smart thermostat or you already use all of these tricks, there are a few things you can still do to save a little money.
- Make sure you keep your ceiling fans running to keep up air flow
- Shutting doors to any rooms that no one is using can help
- Make sure you have a clean air filter installed
- Make sure the area around your air vents is clear and clean