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Published on June 5th, 2008 | by Joel Bittle


Programmable Thermostats Save Money and Energy – EPA Shows You How

es_logo2.jpgAs part of their year-long “Change the World, Start with ENERGY STAR” campaign, EPA has launched a website to help you save money and and energy with your programmable thermostat. A programmable thermostat properly programmed and used can reduce 1,847 lbs of green house gas emissions a year. According to the EPA, maximizing household energy use through serviced heating and cooling systems, leak-less ducts, and thermostats that are programmed to save energy at night or when residents are away, would prevent 169 billion lbs of greenhouse gas emissions per year. To those who are more swayed by the impact on their wallets, programmable thermostats can save about $180 a year. Find valuable tips and resources, including tutorials and a video podcast, on their new website

Some of the helpful tips include lowering the temperature setting by 8 degrees when you’re away or asleep in the winter, or raising the temperature setting by 7 degrees when you’re away and 4 degrees when you’re asleep in the winter. Take advantage of the “Vacation” and “Hold” features to manage temperatures while you’re away from home for an extended period. More helpful tips from the EPA:

Take the time to set. ENERGY STAR qualified programmable thermostats come with different temperature settings for four different times of the day—wake, daytime, evening, and night. You can adjust these settings based on your personal needs (for example, if you’re at home with children during the day) but if you’re able to maintain these settings, you can maximize energy savings.

Plan before you program. Consider your family’s schedule and comfort level when deciding on your pre-programmed temperature settings. If you override the pre-set programming during the day you’ll waste energy and lose money. Use the recommended energy-saving temperature settings as a guide to find the schedule that will work best for your family.

Protect your settings. Resist the urge to override temperature settings. Once you’ve set your programmable thermostat, leave it alone. Overriding pre-programmed temperature settings is a common mistake made by homeowners, which results in higher energy bills and discomfort.

Cash in on comfort. Raising or lowering your thermostat to extreme temperatures won’t heat or cool your home faster. It just makes your HVAC system work harder. When a programmable thermostat is used properly, the home is always at a comfortable temperature when people are at home.

Know when to “hold ‘em.” Use the “Vacation” or “Hold” button to set your programmable thermostat before you go away for the weekend or on vacation. Set it at a constant, efficient temperature a few degrees above normal in warmer months and a few degrees below normal in colder months.

Placement is the key to performance. Thermostats should always be placed on interior walls, away from heating or cooling vents or other sources of heat or drafts.

Battery check. Don’t forget to change the batteries once a year to maintain your settings. Some programmable thermostats indicate when batteries must be changed.

Get out the manual. Manuals have all the information you need to properly set and maintain your programmable thermostat for optimal energy savings. If the manual is no longer around, visit the manufacturer website for your programmable thermostat. It may have all the information you need to program for optimal settings.

Calculate your individual savings. Visit and explore the new Web-based ENERGY STAR virtual programmable thermostat to learn how you can save energy and money based on where you live. The tool also provides energy and money saving tips and recommendations for ENERGY STAR qualified heating and cooling products.

Ask the experts. When a contractor comes by for your annual pre-season check-up, find out how to optimize your programmable thermostat for maximum savings and comfort. ALSO visit or call 1-888-STAR-YES (1-888-762-7937) for more answers!

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About the Author

Joel Bittle is the director of RSI Green, the green building division of RSI Kitchen & Bath in St. Louis, Missouri, and is a member of the St. Louis Home Builders Association Green Builders Council. Joel has worked to bring in and promote green kitchen and bath products in the St. Louis area. Originally from California, Joel taught high school English in San Francisco and St. Louis before splitting his time raising his two daughters and developing RSI Green. Joel writes about his experiences as a stay-at-home dad in STL Homeboy

7 Responses to Programmable Thermostats Save Money and Energy – EPA Shows You How

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  5. Steve Dune says:

    Emerson programmable thermostat is really great. I have one. I liked this post. Thank you for this update.

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