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How to Program Your Thermostat to Cut Heating Costs

When it comes to your thermostat, the set-it-and-forget-it approach only works if you’ve programmed it first. Unfortunately, the vast majority of homeowners don’t bother with the programming part. Instead, they let the furnace run constantly at a temperature they’re comfortable with.

Neglecting to set your heating system on a schedule puts it through excessive wear and tear and sends your energy bill through the roof. This winter, get a grip on your heating costs by taking full advantage of your thermostat’s capabilities. Here’s how:

Find a Cost-Effective Temperature

If you want to stay comfortable without breaking the bank, the U.S. Dept. of Energy recommends setting your thermostat to 68 degrees. To save as much as 10 percent on your annual heating costs, adjust your thermostat down 7 to 10 degrees before you leave home or go to sleep.

Program Your Thermostat Around Your Daily Routine

Programmable thermostats come with six or more temperature settings so that you can schedule your heating system based on your usual daily patterns.

  • Wake time: Set your thermostat to raise the temperature to your desired setpoint approximately 30 minutes before you wake. Your home will be cozy by the time you’re out of bed.
  • Leave time: Set it to drop the temperature 10 degrees before you leave for the day.
  • Return time: Set a program to raise the temperature back to 68 degrees about 30 minutes before you typically leave return home.
  • Sleep time. Again, set it to drop 7 to 10 degrees before calling it a night.

Set Weekday and Weekend Schedules

Your thermostat might include options to program set a Monday-through-Friday schedule and a weekend schedule. This is commonly called 5-1-1 or 5-2 programming.

  • 5-1-1 programming: Use this setting if you operate on a set schedule five days a week. Your programmed settings will repeat for those five days, while the other two -- say, Saturday and Sunday -- can each have different schedules.
  • 5-2 programming: This is similar to the 5-1-1 program except that it only gives you one schedule for the other two days of the week. This is a good option if your weekends are fairly routine.
  • 7-day programming: If you have an erratic schedule, 7-day programming is the option for you. Your thermostat will operate on a different schedule each day of the week.

Bottom line: Most programmable thermostats have a fairly straightforward interface, making it easy to navigate through all the different options. Taking a few minutes to familiarize yourself with your thermostat’s functionality can save you potentially hundreds of dollars a year in heating and cooling costs.

For all of your heating needs this winter, turn to the pros at AAA Service Plumbing, Heating & Electric. To schedule your appointment, call (303) 622-3449.