How to Set Your Programmable Thermostat

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With all the options available for setting your programmable thermostat, it’s easy to get confused. Of course, this defeats the purpose of a programmable thermostat—it’s designed to for you to “set it and forget it,” making your life easier. It’s worth taking the minute or two it takes to read this to clear up anything that may be confusing you about the process. And you can always call our qualified technicians here at A&L Heating and Air to help you with anything you don’t understand.

Traditionally, “set it and forget it” means setting your thermostat at one temperature and just plain leaving it there. Forget having to worry about it or change it. The philosophy behind that mindset was constantly changing the temperature to attempt to save money on energy actually didn’t save anything. Studies have since shown that behavior isn’t accurate at all, and changing the temperature in different situations does save you money. So with a programmable thermostat, “set it and forget it” takes on a new meaning. You can program your thermostat once with the temperature changes specified and then forget about it.

Why Changing Temperatures Does Help You

Why bother to set different temperatures on your programmable thermostat? Because living here in Friendsville, TN, it really does save you money. According to the Department of Energy, if you turn your heat down 10 to 15 degrees for eight hours, you can save five to 15 percent on your heating bill. This translates to a one percent savings for each degree if the setback period is eight hours long. This goes for your air conditioning as well. Turn your air conditioning down (or the temperature up) when you’re out of your house or sleeping, then do the opposite when you’re back home or awake. This diligence will save you energy costs and money.

Types of Programmables

With all the different programs available on programmable thermostats, it can be a bit overwhelming to get started. Depending on what type of programmable thermostat you have, there are several options. Keep in mind you’ll need to set a different program for the cooler months than the warmer months. Also, if you’re in the purchasing stage of a new programmable, remember to know what type of heating and cooling equipment you have for compatibility reasons.

Here are a few of the main types of programmables and what they do. You should see your type below:

  • 7-day programming. This thermostat allows the most flexibility. You can set individual temperatures for each day of the week.
  • 5-1-1 programming. This thermostat allows one schedule for the week (five days/Monday through Friday), then separate schedules for Saturday and then Sunday.
  • 5-2 programming. This thermostat is very similar to the 5-1-1 programming type, except Saturday and Sunday are combined into one plan.
  • 1-week programming. This thermostat allows you to only set one schedule that’s repeated every day, regardless of weekdays and weekends.

How to Set Your Thermostat

Depending on the type of programmable thermostat you have, there will be somewhat different options. That said, most programmables work on the same time options: Wake Time, Sleep Time, Leave Time, and Return Time. Be sure when programming your thermostat you enter realistic times accurately reflecting you and your family’s schedule. You want to get the most from your thermostat.

A few things to keep in mind prior to setting your schedule:

  • Install name-brand batteries, and change them annually. Cheaper batteries don’t have as long of a charge in them. You want your thermostat working when you need it.
  • Feel free to temporarily override your set schedule and adjust the temperature when needed. This override automatically cancels and resumes to normal programming. Don’t select Hold/Permanent/Vacation (depending on your thermostat, and unless you’re actually going on vacation), and just choose Temporary.
  • Avoid cranking temperatures to extremes with the mindset of heating up or cooling down your home quicker. The system doesn’t work that way, and it just uses up your energy faster, costing you more money. Your equipment will heat or cool your home just as fast setting it at the accurate temperatures.

Here’s how to generally set your thermostat:

  1. Be sure to follow your manufacturer’s instructions.
  2. Choose either heating or cooling for whichever you’ll be doing, obviously dependent on the season.
  3. Set the temperature for weekdays by setting the switch to heating or cooling and selecting the weekday program. Start with Monday or just weekday, depending on your model, and select the time and temperature for that day(s) you’d like your home to be. Then continue with the remaining times for that day(s) with temperatures. For example, you may want your air conditioner to cool your home to 72 degrees at 7:00 a.m., so when your alarm goes off at 7:30 a.m., your home is cool for you. Then when you go to bed at 11:00 p.m., you would want to set your air conditioning to 76 degrees at 11:30 p.m. so you’re saving energy while you sleep. The same procedure goes for the heating setting. Many thermostat models allow you to set times and temperatures for four times during weekends. So if you work or leave during the day, you can change the temperature to reflect that and save even more money.
  4. Set the temperature for weekends in the same manner. However, since most people tend to be home more during the weekend, you may only want to set the temperature for your wakeup and bed times. You can use a temporary override to adjust the temperature if you decide to leave the house during the day at all.

Programmable thermostats are really designed for you to “set it and leave it.” Taking a few minutes when your thermostat’s installed to correctly set your schedule will make your home comfortable and allow you to save money at the same time. Call A&L Heating and Air at 865-856-8797 or request service online if it’s time for a new thermostat or if you need help programming yours. We’re here to help.

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