10 Tips for the Thermostat: Your Key to Savings

Thermostats, where they are located in your home, and how you set them can be the most important factor in determining the size of your fuel bill.

1. When you’ll be out for an evening, turn down the thermostats. If you’ll be away for a weekend or more, lower the thermostats to 55 F. You’ll save on heating without risking a freeze-up of your water pipes.

2. Whenever you can lower your thermostat dramatically for a few days or more, you’ll save a little on the operation of the refrigerator and freezer, which won’t need to work so hard to maintain their cool.

3. How low can your thermostats be set? At our house, we’ve gotten accustomed to 68 F as a comfortable norm. Reduce the heat just 1 degree at a time and try it for a week. Each 1-degree drop for an eight-hour period reduces your fuel bill about one percent. Gradually, you might be able to go down 3 or even 4 degrees comfortably and save a chunk of money.

4. Try turning down the thermostat 5 to 10 degrees at night, and then turn it up again in the morning when the coffee is brewing. If you can get used to that, you’ll save 5 to 10 percent of your heating bill.

Once common myth is that when you reduce the thermostat for only a few hours it will take more heat to bring your home back up to the desired temperature. This is not so. You will save money and fuel because your heating system will not have to keep your home so warm. You will use less energy overall even when you warm up your house from a cooler temperature.

5. For greater ease and comfort, install a programmable set-back thermostat. They are available for most gas- and oil-fueled central heating systems. In this way, you can have the heat turned up before you get up in the morning and lowered just as you get into bed. You may not even notice that you are setting back your thermostat. Most of these thermostats come with two setbacks. Therefore, you can also set back the thermostat for the hours when people are in school or at work.

6. Some setback thermostats have different setbacks for weekends. If you frequently forget to setback your thermostat, the programmable setback thermostats will be a great investment. Even if you are already pretty good at remembering, these devices can frequently enable you to set back the thermostat a few extra degrees, providing you with additional savings.

7. If you heat with electricity, you can take advantage of the individual room thermostats that make it possible to shut off unused rooms and to have cool settings in some rooms and warmer settings in others. Using this feature of electric heat will definitely reduce your fuel bills. If you have a thermostat that controls a relatively large area, you should still consider a setback thermostat. You will need an electrician for this installation.

8. Do you need to talk yourself into a lower thermostat setting? Here’s an argument. Your plants are healthier in the cooler air. The health of your plants isn’t in the same league with your personal comfort? All right, you’ll be healthier in the cooler air. Your body will burn a few more calories keeping you warm, thereby helping you to lose weight and improve your general health. Besides, if you’ve already insulated and tightened your home, you will probably be just as comfortable at lower temperatures.

9. When it’s time to open the windows for a little fresh air in the spring, remember to turn down the thermostats. Those cool breezes that feel so good will send your furnace on a fuel-burning rampage unless the thermostats are reset.

10. Planning a party? Turn the thermostats down. Each guest is the equivalent of a 175-watt heater, and a large group will warm up the place without the furnace or the heating units in operation.

Adapted from 547 Ways to be Fuel Smart, by Roger Albright. Copyright (c)2000 by Storey Communications. Reprinted by permission of Storey Books.
Adapted from 547 Ways to be Fuel Smart, by Roger Albright.


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Nora M.
Nora M.1 years ago

It is a good idea to lower your thermostat when you're not going to be home. I usually turn it down to about 60 degrees, but if 55 is warm enough that would be even better. Turning down the heat at night would be okay, too. We always sleep with a bunch of blankets anyway, so that is fine with me. I'll have to give that a try. http://www.heatncool.com.au

Lars Melger
Lars Melger1 years ago

I'm really considering getting a programmable thermostat actually. It seems like it would be a good purchase that could save me a lot of money. I wouldn't want to just keep turning down my thermostat. I'm not a cold weather person. Then again, I could just move more south, that's always an option.

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