19 Oct

Optimizing Setting a Programmable Thermostat for Winter

Posted by Norman F

Easy Eco Blog Electric Programmable Thermostat

The average household will spend over $1100 staying warm during the winter.  This cost just keeps going straight up.  You can lower your heating costs by 2-5% for every 1 degree lower you set your thermostat. Easily save $200 a year.

Housing accounts for 20% of total US energy use with heating and cooling consuming a whopping 44% of residential energy use.

We realized that we were not setting our programmable thermostat optimally, when we saw some tips that result in lower energy use. We would set the thermostat to heat to my desired temperature of 65 degrees from 6pm to 7am. Many people will prefer 68 degrees, but we like wearing sweaters at home. (Or are so cheap we have to)

A more optimal method:

  • Set the programmable thermostat to 65 for 6pm to 11pm to cover the hours when people are in the house and awake.
  • Set it to 55 or whatever your lifestyle allows, while sleeping, 11pm – 6:30am.
  • Then add an entry for 65 degrees for 630am to 7am to warm up the house before you wake up and head out.  The theory is that the house does not need to be heated up that much while people are sleeping.

When you come home to a cold house, don’t be tempted to crank the programmable thermostat way up as it saves no time in reheating your home. You will just make your heater work longer and drive your heating bills upwards.

Programmable Thermostat Temperature Control

Shopping for a new thermostat

If you do not have a programmable thermostat, buy one. Ours costs under $30. Look for ones that allow you to have different schedules for weekdays and weekends. Some have additional program schedules for heating and cooling. These are the four types of programmable thermostats:

  • 7 day program – Each day’s temperature can be individually programmed
  • 5-1-1 day – One program during the weekday, one for Saturday, one for Sunday
  • 5-2 day – One program during the weekday, one for the Weekend
  • 1 week – One program for the entire week

Think about your daily temperature adjustment needs and purchase the thermostat most appropriate to your needs.

Advanced computer controlled thermostats

If you want to buy something a little more sophisticated, Honeywell’s Prestige 7 Day Programmable thermostat can be controlled remotely by an iPhone or iPad.


Smart Programmable Thermostats

Nest, Learning Thermostat, Smart Thermostat

If you want to go all the way, Nest is a learning thermostat from the iPod inventor. It uses a touch-wheel user interface like the original iPod. It connects to your Wi-Fi network and can be controlled by an iPhone App or via the Internet. The Nest learns from your temperature adjusting behavior to create a custom schedule that also helps you conserve energy. The Nest also tells you how long it takes to reach a desired temperature. If you crank up your thermostat to say, 75 degrees, it will tell you it will take 30 min to reach that. This helps to prevent rapid cranking up of the thermostat. Schedules and behaviors can be reviewed on the Nest.com site. It does cost $249, with installation adding another $119.

The nest is clearly overkill, but if you are gadget hound and want to save on energy, go for it. A programmable thermostat costs far less than this.

Inspect, clean, or change the system’s air filters once a month to maximize efficiency and keep costs down.

Additional Related Articles

For Summer see Air Conditioner Energy Savings and Be sure to read Ways to Save Energy, Money on your Power bill

Posted on October 19th, 2022
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8 Responses to “Optimizing Setting a Programmable Thermostat for Winter”

  1. Donna R. Says:

    The sun shines in winter, too.
    Cats have this figured out – on cold winter days, if you own a cat, chances are he or she is lying in a sunbeam on the floor. You, too, can take advantage of the slanted winter sunshine by opening curtains and shades and letting the sun in. Take note, however, at what time the sun moves away from that particular window and cover it accordingly.

  2. Ways to Save Energy, Money on your Utility Bill | Easy Eco Blog Says:

    […] weather striping, thermostats, fixing any leaks are easy to do. Set your thermostat to come on before you get home and before you […]

  3. Air Conditioner Energy Savings - Energy Efficient Air Conditioner | Easy Eco Blog Says:

    […] Winter read: Optimizing Setting a Thermostat for Winter and Be sure to read Ways to Save Energy, Money on your Power bill […]

  4. Fall Energy Saving Tips | Easy Eco Blog Says:

    […] Setup your programmable thermostat […]

  5. EcoGreenie Says:

    Yeah, I try my best to wear warmer clothes in the house and leave my heater on auto so I can save the most energy during winter.

  6. Winter Season Home Preparation Tips | Easy Eco Blog Says:

    […] Install or adjust your programmable thermostat […]

  7. Charlie Says:

    I have use programmable thermostats for years and found the 7 day programmable works best for us.
    We work M-F and leave for work at 720AM and return around 6PM. My thermostat is programmed for the following:
    S-TH nights we have the program go to 60F at 10PM (earlier bed time)
    M-F mornings the thermostat is programmed for 70F at 5AM
    M-F at 730AM programmed to 50F
    M-F at 6PM programmed to 70F
    Friday and Saturday nights it is programmed to 60 but not until 1130PM

    My thermostat has a calibration feature and I offset it by 1.5 degrees because it is located in a warmer location. When it reads 70F it is actually 71.5F at the thermostat but it is 70F in most of the house.
    It also has smart recovery which means it learns the house heating patern and comes on early enough to be AT temperature for the time I programmed.
    I just intstalled a new furnace last winter and resized and replaced all of the ductwork with insulated flex duct. I recently upgraded my thermostat to an Ecobee wifi enabled model with Internet control with weather forecasting.
    This allows me to set it back remotely if I forget to when I go somewhere on the weekends. Also to turn it up if I go home early from work.

    I had a Home Depot floor person try to tell me that you don’t save any money by turning your temperature down. I asked him a simple question and he agreed that it does save money by thinking about the answer.
    If the outside temperature is 50F and my house is 50F, how much heat am I losing? He said “none”. I then asked him the outside temperature was 50F and his house was 70F, how much heat was he losing? He agreed he would be losing heat. The point is that the greater the difference between temperatures, the faster the heat loss. Bringing my house back to temperature uses less than maintaining temperature because of this.

    Check out the Ecobee, no I don’t work for them.

  8. Tips on Keeping New Years Resolutions | Easy Eco Blog Says:

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