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Programmable thermostats

A programmable thermostat is one of the most reliable energy savers available. It is simply a clock combined with a thermostat. They work by adjusting your home's temperature automatically to save energy when your family is sleeping or away from home. If used properly, they can save 10 to 15 percent on heating and cooling costs.

Programmable thermostats can store and repeat multiple daily settings (six or more temperature settings a day) that you can manually override without affecting the rest of the daily or weekly program. They can cost $100 to $200 installed, but you could recoup this money in about a year through energy savings.

When shopping for a programmable thermostat, be sure to look for the Energy Star label.

Myths about Thermostats

  1. The higher you set your thermostat when you return home, the faster your furnace will heat up your house. Not true! Most furnaces deliver heat at the same rate no matter how high the thermostat is set. So just set your thermostat at the temperature you'd like, and your furnace will heat your home as fast as it can.
  2. A furnace works harder than normal to heat your home back to a comfortable temperature after the thermostat has been set back, resulting in little or no savings. Not true! Years of research and field observations have proved this untrue. The longer your house stays at a reduced temperature when heating—or at an increased temperature when cooling—the more energy and money you'll save. This is because your heating or cooling cost depends mostly on the temperature difference between indoors and outdoors.


John Krigger, Saturn Resource Management. Author of numerous energy efficiency books including Surviving the Seasons and Residential Energy: Cost Savings and Comfort for Existing Buildings

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