Your thermostat controls about half of your energy bill – that’s as much as the refrigerator, lighting, TVs, stereos and computers combined. Problem is, a lot of that energy is wasted heating and cooling an empty home.
A programmable thermostat is one of the most cost effective ways to maintain winter comfort and save energy. New touch screen models make it even easier. Most feature four pre-programmed settings and maintains those settings within two degrees. Through proper use of a programmable thermostat (using the four pre-programmed settings) you can save about $180* every year in energy costs
If you want to pick up a new model locally, AlabamaWISE recommends the Honeywell 7-day programmable touchscreen with backlight. The large, easy to read display makes it easy to set so you actually use it and save energy. It works with two stage heating and cooling systems and can be homeowner installed.
Honeywell 7-Day Programmable Touchscreen Thermostat
$80.00 at Lowe’s Home Improvement and Home Depot in Huntsville
- Model # RTH7600D
- Details:7-Day Programming – Allows separate programming for each day
- Easy to Use Touchscreen Display – Straightforward display keeps operation and programming simple
- Backlit Display – Easy-to-read, even in dimly lit rooms and hallways
- Smart Response Technology – Continually adjust the pre-heating/cooling of your home so you are comfortable at your programmed times
- Auto Change from Heat to Cool – Automatically adjusts the pre-heating/cooling of your home so you are comfortable at your programmed times
Nest Learning Thermostat, 2nd Generation w/WiFi
$249 from Amazon at the AlabamaWISE Store
Programmable thermostats help save energy, but many people never program them. The Nest thermostat programs itself. The Nest thermostat learns from you – your temperature adjustments, your house, your patterns. Teach it well to stay comfortable at home and save energy when you’re away. It is also smart phone compatible so you can manage settings while away from home. Check compatibility with your system HERE.
- Heating: 1, 2 and 3 stages (W1, W2, W3 wires)
- Cooling: 1 and 2 stages (Y1, Y2)
- Heat pump: with auxiliary and emergency heat (O/B, AUX, E)
- Fan (G)
- Power (C, Rh, Rc)
- Humidifier or dehumidifier (HUM, DEHUM)*
- Dual fuel (heat pump and furnace)*
- Zone systems with or without dampers
- The Nest thermostat is designed to work without a common “C”wire. However, adding a common C wire may be required in rare installations
- Wi-Fi required for remote control and software updates and Energy Reports
- *Professional installation recommended for dual fuel and dehumidifiers/humidifiers
Honeywell 5 Day/2 Day Programmable Thermostat
$25.00 at Lowe’s in Huntsville
- 5-2-Day Programmable Thermostat – RTHL2310B
- Backlit display
- Precise temperature control
- Easy to use and install
- Weekday/Weekend programming – One program for the weekdays and a separate for the weekend with 4 program periods per day
- Easy to Use – Basic operation keeps programming easy
- Precise temperature control of +/-1°F to maximize comfort
- Display Options – °C or °F temperature – 12 or 24 hour clock
- Compatible with heating and cooling systems plus heat pumps without auxiliary heat
- Does not work with heat pump systems with back-up heat, multi-stage heating/cooling systems or electric baseboard heat (120-240V)
- Model – RTHL2310B
- 1-Year warranty
Proper Use Guidelines for Programmable Thermostats
Rules of Thumb for Proper Use:
- Keep the temperature set at its energy savings set-points for long periods of time (at least eight hours), for example, during the day, when no one is at home, and through the night, after bedtime.
- All thermostats let you temporarily make an area warmer or cooler, without erasing the pre-set programming. This override is cancelled automatically at the next program period. You use more energy (and end up paying more on energy bills) if you consistently “hold” or over-ride the pre-programmed settings.
- Units typically have two types of hold features: (a) hold/permanent/vacation; (b) temporary. Avoid using the hold/permanent/vacation feature to manage day to day temperature settings. “Hold” or “vacation” features are best when you’re planning to be away for an extended period. Set this feature at a constant, efficient temperature (i.e. several degrees warmer temperature in summer, several degrees cooler during winter), when going away for the weekend or on vacation. You’ll waste energy and money if you leave the “hold” feature at the comfort setting while you’re away.
- Cranking your unit up to 90 degrees or down to 40 degrees, for example, will not heat or cool your house any faster. Most thermostats begin to heat or cool at a set time, to reach setpoint temperatures sometime thereafter. Units with adaptive (smart/intelligent) recovery features are an exception to this rule � Adaptive recovery units are constantly calculating the amount of time required to heat or cool the house, so that it reaches that temperature when the homeowner programmed it. By “examining” the performance of the past few days the thermostat can keep track of the seasons. In this way, your house is always at the comfort levels when occupied, but saving the most energy when unoccupied.
- Many homes use just one thermostat to control the whole house. If your home has multiple heating or cooling zones, you’ll need a programmed setback thermostat for each zone to maximize comfort, convenience and energy savings throughout the house.
- If your programmable thermostat runs on batteries, don’t forget to change the batteries each year. Some units will indicate when batteries must be changed.
For starters, install your programmable thermostat unit on an interior wall, away from heating or cooling vents and other sources of heat or drafts (doorways, windows, skylights, direct sunlight or bright lamps).
Remember: Read all instructions and proceed carefully! Programmable thermostats are a low voltage wiring installation and involve anywhere from 2–10 wires, depending on your type of heating and cooling system. However, you should shut down your electricity during any replacement. The previous attachment points will reconnect your new unit.
If the job requires more than just a replacement, call your certified HVAC professional to ensure proper installation, as well as operation of your heating and cooling system. It’s a good idea to upgrade an old manual thermostat to a programmable unit if you’re replacing a CAC or heating system given that programmable thermostats are far more accurate and will maximize the efficiency of your new system. Heat pumps may require a special unit to maximize energy savings year-round. Talk to your retailer or HVAC contractor before selecting the thermostat.
Also, if you’re replacing a manual thermostat that has a mercury switch, be careful not to break the tube that holds this toxic substance. Contact your local recycling/hazardous materials center, or the manufacturer of your new thermostat, for advice on proper disposal.