With the rising costs of living, many of us are looking to tighten our financial belts this winter. One of the most effective ways to cut our costs is to look at reducing our energy bills. Fortunately, this doesn’t mean that you need to suffer through a cold winter, feeling uncomfortable inside your home. So, what is the best thermostat temperature to save money this winter?
The Potential Energy Savings:
Heating experts agree that it is possible to save up to 10% each year in your heating and cooling costs, simply by turning down your thermostat by 7 to 10ºF for eight hours each day. So, if you’re continually lowering and raising the temperature throughout the day or you forget to adjust it when you head out of the door to work or are going to bed, you could be paying far over the odds for your heating costs.
The Optimum Temperature:
While we all have different temperature preferences, as some people prefer the room to be a little warmer, and others prefer it cooler, there is an optimum temperature for comfort and energy efficiency. According to ENERGY Star data, setting the thermostat to 68 ºf is the optimum level when you’re home to enjoy an ideal balance of energy efficiency and comfort.
Just bear in mind that since many people prefer a cooler bedroom when they are trying to sleep, you should program your thermostat to be 62 ºf at night, since you’ll have blankets on your bed to keep you feeling cozy.
If you’re going away for a few days over winter, you may be tempted to turn off your heating entirely, but this may not be the best option. While there is a potential to save some money on your energy bills, you could come home to frozen pipes and other system issues. So, instead, turn your heating down to approximately 50ºf. This will be warm enough to avoid freezing issues, but it will still reduce your energy consumption if no one is at home.
Of course, many people may balk at the idea of going down to a temperature of 68ºf inside their homes, assuming it will feel too cold. If this sounds like you, you may want to ease down the thermostat. As you get used to the cooler temperature setting, you can lower it by another degree or two. Within a few days or a week, you’ll feel comfortable even though you’re heating your home at the sweet spot 68ºf.
Thermostat Placement is Crucial:
Using your thermostat correctly and knowing the optimum home temperature will not provide much benefit if it is placed in the wrong location inside your home. The ideal placement is an interior wall, which is ideally near the center of your home. You should also consider which rooms that you use most for potential thermostat placement, since these are the rooms where you will want to feel most comfortable.
There are a number of areas in your home where you should avoid placing your thermostat. This includes the kitchen, above air vents, near windows and doors or in an area of direct sunlight. These locations can cause the thermostat sensors to read a higher ambient temperature. This means that while it may feel cooler in your room, the heating system is not triggered to fire up the furnace.
Consider a Thermostat Upgrade:
While it may seem counterintuitive to suggest paying for an upgrade in an article about saving money, upgrading your thermostat could easily pay for itself.
Modern heating and cooling systems are designed to use less energy while delivering whole home comfort. Unfortunately, you can’t fully leverage this potential unless you have an updated thermostat. If you need to manually set your thermostat throughout the day, a programmable or smart thermostat can make it not only more convenient, but also help you to save energy, particularly if you are not home all day every day.
The Programmable Thermostat:
A programmable thermostat will allow you to set various temperature preferences for each day of the week for various times of the day. This means that you need to spend a little time manually programming your preferred temperature settings for when you get up, during the day when no one is home, evenings and nighttime, with different considerations for weekends.
A programmable thermostat can be a great tool, but it will only work if used properly. If you’re constantly adjusting the thermostat temperature, you will actually end up spending more.
The Smart Thermostat:
This is the next step up from the programmable thermostat, as these next gen devices are designed to learn your patterns, automatically adjusting the temperature for maximum energy savings.
You can program your smart thermostat remotely and get real time performance alerts. For example, if you need to work late one evening, you can use your phone to adjust the thermostat settings, so you save energy and enjoy a warm home when you arrive.
Consider an Energy Efficient Heater:
Whether you have a furnace or heat pump, you can make even greater energy savings if you have an energy efficient model. If your heater is approaching the end of its useful lifespan, you may be pleasantly surprised at the energy efficiency of new models, particularly if you look for ENERGY Star models.
While an energy efficient heater may cost more initially, the savings you can make on your energy bills over the months and years after installation will more than offset the price difference.
Preparing for winter can be a chore, but with some proactive action, you can ensure that you remain comfortable and minimize your energy costs even in the coldest winter. It is also a good idea to schedule an HVAC service with your local HVAC technician to ensure that your system is operating at peak efficiency before the mercury starts to drop. This will not only save money on your winter heating bills, but you can reduce the risk of your equipment breaking down when you need your heating the most on the coldest days.