What Should You Set Your Thermostat At?
The temperature you set your thermostat to will depend on the time of year and if you’ll be home or away. Instead of setting and forgetting about your thermostat, you’ll want to make adjustments to ensure you are using the highest temperature comfortable for the best energy savings possible.
While You’re Home
While you’re at home, you don’t want to set the thermostat to an uncomfortably high temperature. But bumping it down to ‘nearly freezing’ is a sure way to get a sky-high energy bill. Try setting your thermostat to 78F, which is recommended by the U.S. Department of Energy as the optimal temperature for your home.
If your family prefers a much cooler home, you still have options. Without telling your kids or spouse, set your AC to a higher temperature than you would normally. Then slowly bring it down over the coming days. You can use this method to find the best temperature for your family based on their reactions and comfort level.
You don’t want to be uncomfortable for the sake of money. But, if you can comfortably live at a temperature only a few degrees higher you could significantly impact your energy bill. In fact, during winter months you can save 3% of your energy expenses for every degree you turn your AC down.
During the summer
During summer months, focus on ways to keep your home cool without overusing your AC unit to avoid high energy bills. The higher you set your thermostat during these months the better. Pair a higher temperature in your home with running your fans and closing your curtains to help keep cool air in without running up your energy expenses.
During the winter
During winter months you’ll want to do the opposite, focusing on retaining warm air in your home. Heating is more expensive than cooling a home so you’ll want to use your heater sparingly. You can use an energy-efficient space heater or dress more warmly to keep from relying too heavily on using your heater.
While you’re sleeping
While you’re sleeping, you should set your temperature to around 82F. Keeping your home warmer at night can actually help you sleep better as you’re more likely to reach thermoneutrality. Your body reaches thermoneutrality at 86F. By setting your thermostat to 82F and using sleepwear and a light blanket, you’ll be able to get quality sleep by hitting thermoneutrality. Plus, you’ll save money while you’re at it.
While You’re Away
To save on energy expenses, set your thermostat to 88F before you leave for work. You should also bump it up to this temperature when you’ll be away from your home for any length of time. You don’t want to waste energy and increase your energy bill when you’re not even there to enjoy it. A good rule of thumb to follow is to turn your thermostat up if you expect to be away from your home for two hours or more.
Having your AC set to a warm temperature won’t make it more difficult to cool down your home. In fact, it’s easier to cool down your home because less warm air will flow into your home while you’re away.
Benefits of a Programmable AC Unit
Controlling your AC unit using a programmable system will allow you to control your thermostat down to the hour. In fact, it can begin to cool your home thirty minutes before you get home to make sure you aren’t walking into an uncomfortably warm home.
Smart thermostats take it a step above a regular programmable unit by monitoring when you enter or leave your home and adjusting the temperature accordingly. This can help you to avoid worrying about constantly adjusting your thermostat without missing out on any savings.
Zoning Control in Your Home
Zoning control divides your home into sections and manages the heating and cooling of each independent of each other. This can accommodate family members with different preferences. It’s also good for managing rooms that need to be cooler, like a home gym, or not wasting cooling in a seldom-used room, like a guest room. This form of thermostat control can even be managed from outside your home.
This system would need to be installed in your home, including new ductwork designed to redirect and cut off airflow as directed by the system. But the initial cost of installation will result in energy savings of up to 35%.
How to Keep Your Energy Bill Low
While you want to make habit changes to your heating and cooling usage, there are other ways to control the temperature of your home without using your AC unit. A few options for those who don’t want to only rely on reducing AC usage include:
- Changing activities to avoid heat gain in the home
- Using curtains to block out sunlight during the day
- Using fans to help cool (or heat) your home
- Take advantage of natural ventilation
- Install insulation and add sealing as needed
By holding off on heat-producing activities like running your dishwasher or washing clothes until the evening, you can cut down on heat gain in your home. This keeps you from feeling the need to turn to your thermostat for relief.
Heavy curtains are a good addition if your home gets significant sun during the day. Closing the curtains will help keep the cool air in. The opposite is true on cold days. Open your curtains and welcome in the sun, it’ll heat up the room and cut down on heating costs.
Fans can help to create a breeze in your home and reduce how warm your home feels. This usually is a reduction of about eight degrees. In the winter you can reverse the direction of your fan and benefit from warm air being pushed down. This will keep you warm without running up your heating costs.
Opening your windows or doors for a cross-breeze through your home will help with cooling expenses as well. This is best done in the mornings or evenings. You can also install insulation or seal your doors and windows to keep cool air in. Installing new insulation can actually result in a 107.7% ROI.
Ensure Your AC is Running Correctly
Home energy evaluations and regular maintenance of your unit will catch problems and help you to make adjustments to your home. Home energy evaluations will take a look at everything from breakers to appliances and air conditioning to windows. You’ll get a report of everything you can change to improve your energy efficiency and cut down on energy costs without the commitment of making changes before knowing ROI.
Having an inefficient HVAC system can end up costing you more in energy expenses. This is why you should make sure to have at least one maintenance visit from a professional HVAC technician each year. If possible you should have a maintenance inspection twice a year, once in spring and once in the fall.
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