How Small Adjustments to Your Thermostat Can Save Money

Verani Realty

Man adjusting thermostatIf you are trying to find ways to conserve on the costs of heating or cooling your home, you may wonder if small temperature adjustments will really add up to savings. They absolutely can, and the savings may surprise you.

Heating and cooling bills make up more than 50% of your home’s energy use each year. Temperature setback is a way to save money, and it doesn’t mean you have to be uncomfortable. Adjustments to the thermostat are typically done when it won’t impact the comfort and enjoyment of your home, such as when you leave the house and when you go to bed at night.

Even small adjustments can save you. Setting the thermostat a few degrees lower in winter keeps the house colder and the furnace will not turn on as often. The result is that you use—and pay for—less fuel. In summer, turning up the thermostat keeps the house a bit warmer, essentially cutting back on the amount of time the air-conditioning system runs each day, which lowers your electrical bill.

How much does this save? According to the U.S. Department of Energy's Energy Savers website, you generally can save 3% on your heating bill for each degree that you turn your thermostat down during the winter, so adjusting that thermostat is a great way to cut costs.

Making these money-saving adjustments is simple:

  • When you are about to leave your home for 8 hours or longer, set your thermostat 5°-8° higher in the summer and 10°-15° lower in the winter.
  • Then, when you return home, set the thermostat back to the setting your family finds comfortable.

Doing this can save you 5-15% on your yearly energy costs, according to the U.S. Department of Energy

Will savings be lost while getting back to a comfortable temperature?

The short answer is no. It’s true that your furnace or air conditioning units will need to run longer to get your home back to its regular comfortable temperature. However, that does not mean there won’t be any savings from the setback.

For example, your furnace will run less often, and therefore cost you less money, when you set your thermostat at a lower temperature. And there is a bit of science involved too - the rate of temperature loss decreases once the home temperature lowers in the winter (or rises in the summer).

Energy.gov explains how temperature transference occurs in the winter:

“As soon as your house drops below its normal temperature, it will lose energy to the surrounding environment more slowly. The lower the interior temperature, the slower the heat loss. So the longer your house remains at the lower temperature, the more energy you save, because your house has lost less energy than it would have at the higher temperature. The same concept applies to raising your thermostat setting in the summer -- a higher interior temperature will slow the flow of heat into your house, saving energy on air conditioning.”

Anyone can make these adjustments

Adjusting your home’s temperature when you leave the house or head to bed is an easy way to trim your energy costs. Remember, if you have multiple zones (a few thermostats in different areas of your home) you'll need to adjust them all or have a programmed thermostat for each zone to maximize comfort, convenience and energy savings throughout the house. Through proper use of temperature setback during the workday and at night you can save about $180 every year in energy costs.

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