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Home Page > Consumer Assistance > Consumer Tips > Tip of the Week

Consumer Tip Sunday, January 22, 2006

Save Money With
A Programmable Thermostat

Would you like to save up to 10 percent on the heating and cooling portion of your utility bill?  It's easy to do with a programmable thermostat.

What is a programmable thermostat?

A programmable thermostat automatically changes the temperature in your home at preset times during the day.  For example, you can program your furnace or heat pump to reduce the temperature from 70 degrees to 65 degrees while you sleep, come back on 30 minutes before you get up so the house is warm while you are getting ready for work, return to 65 degrees while you are at work, then raise the temperature back to 70 degrees before you arrive home.

How much do they cost?

A good programmable thermostat costs between $50 and $150, depending on the features.

Can I install it myself?

Installing a programmable thermostat is not difficult.  (Make sure you turn the circuit breaker off.)  Most come with clear installation instructions but, if you are not comfortable installing one, a heating and air conditioning professional can do the job in a few minutes.

What should I consider when buying a programmable thermostat?

  • Make sure the thermostat is designed for heating and air conditioning;
  • If you have a heat pump, look for a thermostat that is compatible with a heat pump;
  • Consider the following features when buying:
         1. A battery back-up so the programming won't be lost in case of a power outage;
         2. The ability to store and repeat multiple settings;
         3. Instructions on the inside cover 


Doesn't it take more energy than you would save to raise or lower the temperature in the house?

No.  You save fuel between the time the temperature stabilizes and the next time heating or cooling is needed.  The longer time the furnace, air conditioner, or heat pump stays off, the more money you save.  (Source: U. S. Department of Energy)