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How to use a programmable thermostat to save money this winter

It’s that time of year again: sure, it's winter, but it's also time to consider a programmable thermostat if you're still living in the past.

You can’t walk outside without a blast of cold air hitting your face. You have to make time to brush the snow off your car every time you want to drive somewhere. The morning commutes drags even longer.

Oh, and you have to pay more to keep your home warm.  Great.

How much energy are we using?

Homes and commercial buildings consume 40 percent of the energy used in the United States. Out of the $2,000 the average homeowner spends on energy annually, $200 to $400 could be going to waste from easily avoidable errors.

That’s why our Fairfax heating and cooling experts came up with some tips for using programmable thermostat.  Reduce your carbon footprint, save on monthly energy bills and keep your home warm and cozy all winter long.

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What is a programmable thermostat?

Programmable thermostat

A thermostat works by sensing air temperature and switching on or off to meet the desired thermostat setting. Old-school home thermostats used a mercury switch (an actual glass vial with a small amount of actual mercury inside) to read temperatures.

Modern digital thermostats, on the other hand, use a thermistor to measure temperature. A thermistor is a resistor which allows electrical resistance changes with temperature.

The microcontroller in a digital thermostat can measure the resistance and convert that number to an actual temperature reading.

One of the best features of a digital thermostat is its programmable settings. A programmable thermostat lets you choose what days and times you want to heat your home and at what temperatures.

So, for example, you could program your thermostat to hit 65 degrees Fahrenheit on weekdays and 70 degrees Fahrenheit on weekends and evenings when your family is all home.


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Working with your HVAC unit

A thermostat alone won’t keep your home running at peak performance. As much as half of the energy used in your home is going towards heating and cooling. If you want to heat your home as efficiently as possible, consider updating your home to use ENERGY STAR appliances.

ENERGY STAR products are the same units you use every day -- except they use less energy. In order to earn this label, these products must meet strict energy efficiency criteria set by the U.S. Department of Energy.

If your HVAC unit is more than 10 years old -- or if it’s not keeping your home comfortable -- it’s time for HVAC repair in Fairfax. If you make the simple choice to replace your old heating and cooling equipment with ENERGY STAR qualified equipment, you can cut your annual energy bill by more than $115.

What are the benefits of programmable thermostats?Programmable thermostat

Programmable thermostats are becoming more and more popular as part of HVAC repair in Fairfax and other cities around the Washington, D.C. region. Here’s what you can expect if you make the switch:

Big savings

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, you could save around 10 percent a year on your heating and cooling bills by lowering your thermostat back 10° to 15° for eight hours a day.

So why doesn’t everyone do it? When it comes to climate control, many homeowners choose to manually adjust their thermostat. The real problem with this method, though, is that they’re busy (and often forget). With a programmable thermostat, you just set it once and can forget about it -- which means automatic savings in your pocket.

Consistent temperatures

Once you install the program and program it appropriately, it will work automatically. This way, you can keep your temperature variance consistent. We often recommend that you lower the temperature a few degrees when everyone is away from the house (whether at school, away on vacation or at work).

Customized comfort

With a programmable thermostat, you don’t have to worry about coming home to a cold house. By setting the temperature based on your family’s personal schedules, your home’s environment will automatically return to the preferred settings by the time you come home.

 

Popular programmable thermostats

Programmable thermostat


As with any modern system, programmable thermostats are not one-size-fits-all. Here are some popular types of programmable thermostats from the Fairfax heating and cooling experts:

 System zoning. You know how some rooms always tend to be colder than others? With system zoning on a programmable thermostat, you can even out your home’s temperature.

System zoning wires multiple thermostats to one control panel that operates dampers within your forced-air system ductwork. When one room isn’t at the desired temperature, it will open the specific damper within the ductwork according to the thermostat settings.

This also comes in handy when different family members have different comfort temperatures.  

Talking thermostats. Taking thermostats are quite popular within the senior citizen community, those who are visually impaired and other people with special needs.

Not only do these thermostats announce the day, time and temperature, but they have audio setup instructions.

Some models respond to voice commands such as “lower thermostat” or “raise thermostat.”  

In addition, they can alert you when you need to change your filters, get your unit serviced or are experiencing any other issues (which will also save you money).

 Smart thermostats. A smart thermostat is a device that uses Wifi to automatically adjust your home’s temperature settings through your smartphone.

Some even have geofencing parameters, which send a signal to your Wifi thermostat when you’re on the way home in order to automatically adjust the temperature to your liking.

These systems will provide you with data that you can track and manage in order to make the best decisions for your home’s unique needs.

Popular models for Wifi thermostats include Google Nest, ecobee, Emerson and Honeywell.

Let’s talk programmable thermostats.

Programmable thermostat
To ensure maximum heating efficiency, it's best to have your heater and thermostat inspected by Fairfax heating and cooling experts or the local experts in your DMV town.

To have your system checked, or to learn more about programmable systems or Wifi thermostats, schedule an appointment with us online today.

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