Some of you might think, “Well of course a programmable thermostat will save you money,” but this is not necessarily the case. Of course many of them of your energy when compared to a regular thermostat, but there are some underlying assumptions in these claims. Let’s dive into these claims and discover how much a programmable thermostat can save us, if anything at all.
The Reason For the Programmable Thermostat
Some of you might be wondering why I even care about a programmable thermostat in the first place. Well, this year I have made an audacious goal to pay off the $54,500 balance on my mortgage, so every penny is important to me. Even if my savings tactics with this thermostat only equates to an extra $50, it still will help drive me to hit my goal. Haha, so lay off and let me tell you if you can save a few bucks with a programmable thermostat of your own!
The Upfront Costs
My house has a completely functional thermostat that has been working for many years. But, it is not programmable, meaning that I cannot set it to automatically raise or lower the temperature while I am away at work. I had been trying to turn down the heat manually this winter, but it posed two problems:
- I don’t always remember to turn down the heat when I leave, which obviously saves me no money
- I really don’t like waking up to a cold house or coming home to a cold house
I have always wanted to get a programmable thermostat, but I wasn’t sure if it was really worth the upfront costs I would incur (because I would obviously have to purchase a thermostat in order to experience the monthly savings in energy). So first of all, how much does a new programmable thermostat cost? I was able to find a very basic 5+2 (meaning you can program it for the weekdays and the weekend) for $20. Plus, I may even be able to sell my old thermostat for $5 or so, which would further reduce my upfront costs.
Onto the Savings of the Programmable Thermostat
I have researched many different sites and they basically all say the same thing. Green Valley Cooling states that,
“Programming your thermostat to cool and heat less while you are away from the home or during hotter and cooler parts of the day can significantly reduce your energy consumption. In fact, you can reduce your air conditioning energy usage by around 5-30%.”
Trent from the Simple Dollar actually purchased a programmable thermostat and tracked its savings:
“Our energy use when comparing the same month to a year prior dropped about 10% after installing the programmable thermostat. That amounted to a roughly 7% drop in our energy bill.”
While the above statements are definitely true, the key to this debate is spelled out well by Allison, from Energy Vanguard:
“The problem here is that people confuse programmable thermostats with thermostat setbacks (when the temperatures are varied throughout the day). Two entirely different animals! Thermostat setbacks are where the energy savings come from. Programmable thermostats may or may not be programmed or manually adjusted for setbacks.
So, the answer to the title question is:
No, programmable thermostats do not save energy. Not without some help from you anyway.”
After this research, I know that I can expect a realistic savings of approximately 7% off from my heating bill, pending I set my thermostat to rise and fall accordingly while I am at work and in bed. If I buy a programmable thermostat and fail to program it to reduce the temperature in my house (during the winter) while I am out, I will not save any money whatsoever.
My Thermostat Settings and Savings
Because I am Mr. Frugal, I have not only decided that I will buy a programmable thermostat to vary the temperature based on the time of day, but I will also reduce the average temperature in my house this winter. My typical bill from heating my house each month is about $80 during the winter. By programming my thermostat to reduce the temperature in my house while I am away at work and also while I am sleeping, I can expect a 7% savings, which equates to about $5.50 a month. But, by lowering the typical temperature in my house from 65 down to 63 degrees, I can save another 2% (1% per degree), which increases my savings to over $7 per month. It doesn’t sound like a lot, but by investing $20 on a programmable thermostat, I can save approximately $80 a year, and that inches me a little closer to that mortgage-free lifestyle I’ve been longing for!
Do you have a programmable thermostat? Have you ever tracked your savings?
My name is Derek, and I have my Bachelors Degree in Finance from Grand Valley State University. After graduation, I was not able to find a job that fully utilized my degree, but I still had a passion for Finance! So, I decided to focus my passion in the stock market. I studied Cash Flows, Balance Sheets, and Income Statements, put some money into the market and saw a good return on my investment. As satisfying as this was, I still felt that something was missing. I have a passion for Finance, but I also have a passion for people. If you have a willingness to learn, I will continue to teach.