How to set your thermostat for maximum energy savings
According to a 2015 update from the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the average residential monthly electric bill in the U.S. is $136.00. You can save up to 10% a year on your heating and cooling expenses by simply setting your thermostat back 7° to 10°F for 8 hours each day.1 That means you can adjust your thermostat before leaving for work and before bed each day and potentially see real savings on your electricity bill.
Even a small amount of savings adds up over time, so we’ve assembled a list of energy-saving tips to help you get the most out of your thermostat and save money on utilities.
"Smart" thermostats vs. old-school thermostats
Depending on the time of year and where you live, adjusting your thermostat to lower temperatures during the day and at night can help boost your energy savings. You can do this with a manual (old-school) thermostat, a programmable thermostat or a smart thermostat. Programmable thermostats allow you to set a schedule of temperature changes according to your family's daily patterns such as when you go to sleep, wake up, go to work/school or return home. Many programmable thermostats allow you to set a unique schedule for each day of the week with several temperature changes per day, while others may have more basic scheduling options or a limited number of temperature adjustments that can be made per day. The thermostat will keep to your schedule until you re-program it.
Smart thermostats, on the other hand, use technology to seamlessly adjust your home’s temperatures based on your schedule and preferences, so you don't have to make any manual changes. Some require you to set an initial schedule that the thermostat will adjust over time. Others don't require you to program anything and will adjust to your comings and goings automatically. Some use motion detectors to determine if people are at home or away, and most offer options to override the smart settings with custom settings if you need to. These thermostats find ways to reduce AC or heater use through incremental changes, such as turning the HVAC system off a few minutes earlier than you may have initially set the device or adjusting the preferred temperature by a couple of degrees during times when you won't notice the difference.
Energy-saving temperatures to set your thermostat to
The best thermostat settings for energy savings can vary based on your home and local climate. However, generally speaking, in the winter, you can set your thermostat to 68° while awake and lower it when you’re asleep or away from home. In the summer, set the thermostat to 78° when you are at home and higher when you are away.2 How much you save on energy costs from changing thermostat settings will depend on several factors related to your home and current energy usage. Read on for some additional tips for summer and winter or visit our Summer Bill Tips and Winter Bill Tips pages.
Summer thermostat setting and energy tips
- Keep thermostat temperature settings as high as possible
- Use window treatments to keep your home cool
- Plant deciduous trees to create shade around your home
Winter thermostat setting and energy tips
- Keep thermostat settings as low as possible
- Allow the sun to shine through windows to warm the house during the day
- Use an extra blanket at night and lower your thermostat
Making the switch to a "smart" thermostat
Most smart thermostats allow you to monitor and control your home’s temperature from a smart phone or mobile device. Depending on your budget, location and lifestyle, you may want to consider purchasing a smart thermostat as a way to save money without having to think about and remember when to adjust your thermostat.