The Value Of A Programmable Thermostat

Recently it has been argued that the promised savings of a programmable thermostat simply aren’t true. An FPL study has suggested that homes with programmable thermostats spend MORE money per year and not less. The reality is that programmable thermostats offer fantastic value for buyers when used correctly. It is important to note that in these studies that recorded greater energy usage the consumer had not programmed the thermostat properly and tended to turn it down more when they got home than under the old system.

Given that, the aim of this article is to first show the value of a programmable thermostat and then demonstrate how you can realize that value.

By the Numbers:

The projected savings per year for a thermostat is $180 per year but note this assumes a number of factors. It first assumes a single-family home with 10 hours spent set to 8 degrees Fahrenheit warmer in winter and 7 degrees Fahrenheit cooler in summer. It also assumes an 8-hour night setting with 8 degrees warmer in winter and 4 degrees cooler in summer. If you do the math, these numbers assume your thermostat is off for 6 hours of the day.

Naturally, the actual savings to you varies based on usage. If you are setting your thermostat to 40 degrees in the summer and 90 degrees in winter then, you will not meet these savings. Furthermore, if you set your home to heat or cool when you are in the house then you will not achieve any savings compared to a regular thermostat. Ultimately, whether or not you realize the savings of a programmable thermostat comes down to how you use it.

The Value Of A Programmable Thermostat

Correct Temperature Settings:

Contrary to popular belief, setting your thermostat to a temperature radically different from the outside will not warm or heat your home any faster. Your home will get from 40 degrees to 60 degrees just as quickly whether the thermostat is set to 70 or 90. As such, once you find a comfortable temperature setting do not mess with it. Once you have your desired temperature trust in the unit to bring your home to wherever it needs to be.

Do Not Adjust the Thermostat:

Once you have a set temperature, leave the setting where it needs to be. It is recommended that you leave your home at a given temperature for 8-hours at a stretch. If you are overriding the pre-programmed settings or making adjustments your HVAC system will never have a chance to reach the temperature you desire, resulting in equipment running for longer and burning more energy. This extra energy burn will eat into your projected savings and end up costing you more money in the long run.

Also be sure to remember the time it takes for a home to cool when setting the programming: if you find you are always coming home to a hot or cold house, consider altering when the thermostat starts cooling the home to the desired temperature rather than having it start right when you walk in the door.

Proper Use of Hold Settings:

Although it may be tempting simply to override the programming and set the thermostat to hold at a given temperature, do what you can to avoid that temptation. These settings are primarily meant for when you know you’ll be leaving the house for an extended period and act as a temporary override. If you instead use these settings to override the programming, you set then you might as well stick with a standard thermostat.


A programmable thermostat is a fantastic investment for your home, and a great way to save money in the long run if you use it correctly. By following the advice in this guide you’ll be able to save yourself at least as much as the theoretical numbers, if not more. Just remember, as with most things in life, savings come not just from what you use as how you use it.

The writer, Brennen Kliffmueller, is something of a do-it-yourself guru who is always the first person friends and family turn to for advice about keeping their home in top condition. For HVAC problems he can’t handle, he recommends going to You can learn more about Brennen on Google+.