Programmable Thermostat to Save you Money

I always seem to hear from every homeowner I know about how high their energy bills are and that they have only gotten worst during the Winter. You can really cut back on your energy use by switching to a programmable room thermostat. By putting a thermostat on a daily schedule, you can really save you a lot of money without any noticeable difference.

You can save around 10% off your current energy bill by reducing the temperature in your house from 10° – 15° for 8 hours. Considering that many people work a full 8 hours every day, this does not seem like a very difficult task. There are two ways that I will be discussing that can allow you to accomplish this savings:

Programmable Thermostat

The easiest way to make sure that your house is not wasting energy to keep your house warm/cold even though you are not there is to buy a programmable thermostat. They allow you to adjust the time at which your heater or air conditioner is turned on and off. This is perfect for when you are at work during the day or asleep at night. You can even set different schedules for when you are home more on the weekends or even on particular days of the week. This is really helpful so that you can set it once and only requires changing if your schedule changes.

Various Models

There are so many different types of programmable thermostats, but all fit in three different categories:

  • 7-Day: These models allow you to change the temperature and time settings for every day of the week. This model gives you much more flexibility and are especially useful for those who have children who arrive home at different times, or who don’t have a 8 hour work day.
  • 5+2: These models allow you to have a schedule for weekdays and one for weekends. For a household with a constant schedule, this type makes complete sense.
  • 5-1-1: This model is a mixture of the two above. It has a constant weekday schedule but allows for more flexibility during the weekends. If you volunteer during the weekends or go to church on Saturday or Sunday, this type would really make a lot of sense.

Which One To Buy

There are so many programmable thermostats available today with prices ranging from $25 all the way up to over $150. The more expensive models tend to have nice touch screen displays and have many more options and there are even some internet enabled models. Many of the models at the lower-end of the price range work just as well as the expensive models, but may not have as many fancy features. Just make sure that the thermostat is Energy Star rated and has good reviews. Here are a few models I found that fit in both of those categories:

  • 7-Day: Hunter carries a 7-Day model that is fairly affordable at around $38 and is Energy Star compliant. You can also get a really expensive model like this Honeywell that has a variety of features and a touch screen.
  • 5+2: Honeywell carries a value programmable thermostat at $28, is energy star rated and has some great reviews.
  • 5-1-1: Honeywell also carries a 5-1-1 model that a multitude of features and works really great.

Manual Thermostat

In order to save money, this doesn’t mean you have to have a thermostat with programming capabilities. You can still get the same effect with a manual model. All that is required is to turn your thermostat down before you leave your home or go to sleep and turn it back up when you need to. You will still be cutting back your energy use and saving money, but it just requires more work on your part.

How to Save

As I said above, you can save around 10% off your energy bill by simply cutting back your thermostat by 10° – 15° for 8 hours. A sample schedule you could set your programmable thermostat to or manually do during the winter:


  • Work Day (9-4): Set your thermostat to 50° – 60° so that you it is not turning on at all while you are not there.
  • Evening (5-10): Push up the temperature to 65° – 70° depending on how warm your like your house. You may want to program the thermostat to turn on an hour or so before you arrive to be ready for when you get home.
  • Nights(10-6): Setting the temperature during nights is really dependent on how warm you like your house while you sleep. I don’t mind it cool so I tend to have mine way down. I would probably set a range from 55° – 65°. If savings are your main concern, then you can always use a heavier comforter and cut back the thermostat.

This schedule can easily be changed for the summer where you can just change switch the numbers around. So instead of turning down your heating system to 50°, you can turn your air-conditioner up to 70° .

What is Too Low?

Keeping your house at a low temperature is a huge myth that many believe is in fact true. You can in fact keep your house at a fairly low temperature without freezing your pipes or causing your heating/cooling system from working too hard. What is that low temperature though? Well, I did some research and found that an appropriate temperature to keep your house is around 50°. This should prevent your heating system from turning on and off the entire day and still keep your pipes warm enough so that they do not freeze. It may run for some time to warm back up, but nowhere as much as when it is running during the day while you are not there. Another concern is about family pets. If you do feel that it is too cold in the house for your pets, you could always keep it higher than 50°. Make you best judgment when it comes to your pets.

Share Your Settings

Please share what settings you keep your house and how it has saved you money.

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  1. I live in Hawaii where we don’t use heat or air, but I loved my programmable thermostat when I lived in Michigan. I would turn it to 48 degrees while we were all at work and set it to turn back up about 30 minutes before we were scheduled to get home. I’d also set it to about 63 while we slept – and had it set to turn back up right before I woke up so that I’d have a warm bathroom! They are well worth every penny that you spend on them!

    • Sarah
    • April 22nd, 2009

    I’m all for recycling and eating organic, but this is one “green” thing I can’t do. My thermo’s set for 73 degrees, winter or summer, all year round. Anything else is uncomfortable and not gonna happen…I’d rather pay 10x the couple hundred in savings to have a comfy home where I can relax after working hard all day.

    • Clock
    • January 6th, 2010

    Sarah – what you are saying doesn’t make sense. The idea is to set the thermostat so that it is warm before you wake up or get home. In other words, it goes on an hour before you wake up or get home from work. By the time you are in the temperature, it should feel warm.

    73 seems arbitrary.

  1. February 17th, 2009
  2. February 17th, 2009

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