The programmable thermostat is designed to help you save on the cost of heat (or cooling) by resetting the temperature settings for periods when you do not need it to be as warm (or cool) as when you are in the house and active or when you are away for extended times.The aim is to increase your comfort level, while decreasing the energy costs.
For example, during the night while you are asleep the temperature can be set lower (like about 62 degrees), because you’re in bed and under the covers. Shortly before your normal wake up time, say around 6:00 or so, you’ll want the temperature setting to be raised so you can arise to a warm house (like 68 or 70 degrees). Most people will be out the door and gone to work and school around 7:30 or 8:00 and since no one will be in the house the temperature can reset to a lower temp (like 62 again). If you’re going to get home in the early evening, say 5:30 or 6:00, the temperature can be reset shortly before you arrive home again so you can come home to a warm home ( 68 or 70 again) and stay warm right up until bedtime when the process can begin again. Not every home will be empty during the work day. Some of the family members may stay at home members in which case you won’t want to use the reset during the day.
By following the directions provided with the thermostat and choosing the times best suited to your particular circumstances, you can reduce the amount of heat you are using and save some money. On average, for each degree lower that you set the temperature, you can save about 3% on your bill, since you use a little less fuel (electricity or natural gas or fuel oil).
Some programmable thermostats allow you to have a schedule for the weekdays and another for the weekends. Some others allow you to have a schedule for each day of the week. The ones for each day are a little more expensive, but they allow more flexibility in the schedules you program. For example; if your kid’s school starts earlier on some days, let’s say Wednesday and Thursdays, and that’s why you leave the house earlier; you can set the thermostat accordingly. This means more savings on the energy bills.
Each of the programmable thermostats has an override feature that you can use when your schedule and the program are different. By carefully considering what it is you want the temperatures to do, you can save money and be comfortable all the time. The instructions are usually fairly easy to follow and there is often a page in the instruction book that allows you to write down just what the schedule is your program in.
Cannot we make the same changes with old style thermostats?
Of course we can make these changes technically. However, in practice nobody can adjust the thermostat couple times a day – continuously. Think about this :
- you will set the new temperature before going bed
- you will increase when you wake up
- you will decrease when you are leaving from the house
- you will increase when you are back
Even if you can, your comfort level will not be the same: The house will be cold in the morning when you wake up and it will take time to get warmer; most likely the morning shower won’t be easy… And also, when you are back to home in the afternoon, the house will be cold again…
You can automate this process by simple installing a programmable thermostat to your home.
Apart from the usability issues; there is one huge drawback for mechanical or snap action thermostats: The sensor in a digital thermostat is much more accurate than a mechanical or snap action thermostat. Your old large dial thermostat, maybe 5+ degrees off of the actual temperature so if the room is 70 your thermostat might only think its 65 and keep running when it does not have to. Obviously, you will get a much bigger bill at the end of the month.
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