We’re all concerned about heating costs nowadays. But thermostat wars between household members are nothing new. As winter approaches, you may be wondering what temperature will keep your family happy and your energy bills manageable.
What the Experts Say
According to the United States Department of Energy 68 degrees Fahrenheit is the ideal winter temperature to balance comfort and energy efficiency. Sixty-eight degrees may seem chilly to some members of your household, but remember that you can always layer up. The DOE also claims you can save 1-3% on your energy bill for every degree you lower your thermostat. If 68 degrees is too cold for your family, you can still save money by dropping a few degrees – from 72 to 70, for instance. You’re unlikely to notice a difference in comfort from just a degree or two.
Once you’ve chosen your target winter temperature, there are a few more ways to heat smart and maximize your savings.
Lower the Temperature For 8 Hours a Day
You can save up to 10% on your heating costs if you lower your temperature by 7 to 10 degrees for at least 8 hours a day. If your entire family leaves for work or school, you can lower the thermostat during business hours while no one is even home to notice. Why waste money keeping an empty house toasty? However, you shouldn’t turn off your heat entirely as you don’t want your pipes to get cold enough to freeze. And remember any pets or plants that you might be leaving behind. Ten degrees will give you a nice cost savings without causing any problems or taking too long to heat back up when you get home.
Another great time to lower your thermostat is at night after everyone is in bed. Did you know that you actually sleep better when you’re cool? Though it varies slightly from person to person, the ideal sleep temperature is typically between 60 and 66 degrees Fahrenheit. That’s good for your health and your wallet.
Invest in a Smart or Programmable Thermostat – And Use It!
If it sounds like a lot of work to adjust your thermostat several times a day, there are many models that can do it for you. Programmable thermostats come standard anytime Reliance Heating and Cooling replaces your heater or air conditioning system, but if you are still working with an older thermostat, we can help you upgrade. Many folks have programmable thermostats in their home but have never taken the time to set them. Spending just a few minutes at the start of the winter to adjust the temperature while you’re away and at night can save you a lot of money throughout the season.
Smart thermostats make controlling temperature even easier! Smart thermostats allow you to quickly adjust your routines, analyze your energy usage, and even change the temperature of your home remotely through an app on your phone or device. Many smart thermostats can even learn your habits and suggest ways that you can reduce your energy usage. Installing a smart thermostat is a worthwhile investment that will quickly pay for itself.
Check the Location of Your Thermostat
If you’re considering replacing your thermostat, that’s a great time to make sure it’s in the best location to accurately gauge the temperature of your home. Thermostats should be installed on an interior wall, ideally in a well-used room near the center of the house – but not the kitchen. Keep them anyway from any lamps or appliances that give off heat that might fool them into thinking your home is warmer than it is. Avoid areas of direct sunlight and make sure the thermostat won’t be impacted by air coming through doors, windows, or air vents, which may be a different temperature than the rest of the house.
Service Your Furnace
Reliance Heating and Cooling recommends that all heating systems are checked once a year. One of the many benefits to regular maintenance is that a tuned up HVAC system doesn’t have to work as hard to maintain your desired temperature, which means you’ll save on your energy costs.
It’s especially important to make sure you’re using a clean air filter. Your heater will have to work harder to push warm air into your home through a clogged or dirty filter – and your air quality will suffer too. Depending on the type of air filter you use, this is an inexpensive fix that can be easy to overlook.
Mind Your Windows
It’s also a good idea to do what you can to keep heat from escaping your home. The more insulation, the better. Windows are often a weak point. You should check your window and door frames and plug any air leaks. If your windows are old, you may want to replace them with energy efficient ones. There are also several types of window treatments that can decrease the amount of heat lost through your windows. But when the sun is shining, you should open your curtains to allow the sunlight to help warm your home.
You can save money on your energy bills if you’re conservative with your thermostat. The smaller the gap between the temperature outside and the temperature inside, the lower your heating costs will be. A cooler home also loses its heat more slowly. But you needn’t sacrifice all comfort just to save money. A programmable or smart thermostat can turn down the temperature when you’re away or asleep and won’t even notice. And don’t forget to service your heater and change your air filter so your system works at its best!