According to the United States Department of Energy, consumers can save about 10 percent a year on heating and cooling bills with the help of programmable thermostats. You don’t have to sacrifice comfort either, follow these four tips that the Department offers to help you easily save energy and money.

1. Raise or lower your temperature when you’re not home

Properly set your programmable thermostat to automatically raise or lower your home’s temperature when you’re not there, and then automatically return the temperature to a comfortable level by the time you get back.

Programming your thermostat 10 to 15 degrees higher when you are not around can save about 5 to 15 percent a year on your utility bill. It is recommended that you program your thermostat at 78 degrees during the summer and 68 degrees during the winter while you’re at home. Then, for the time you’ll be away from home set your thermostat back 10 degrees — to 88 degrees during the summer and 58 degrees during the winter.

2. Keep setback periods at least eight hours long

In order to save the most money, you’ll need to be able to set your programmable thermostat back the recommended 10 degrees for around eight hours a day. Setting your thermostat back 10 to 15 degrees for eight hours a day can save you from 5 to 15 percent a year on heating and cooling bills — a savings of about 1 percent for each degree of setback.

3. Get special thermostats for special heating systems

Normal programmable thermostats are usually not recommended for homes with heat pumps, electric resistance heating, steam heat, or radiant floor heating. These systems typically require specialized thermostats to operate efficiently, so be sure to check with your system’s manufacturer before you buy or install a programmable thermostat.

4. Install thermostats in neutral parts of the home

If you don’t already have a programmable thermostat, the good news is that they’re affordable and can be easy to install for do-it-yourselfers. However, make sure the thermostat is properly installed in a neutral part of the home, away from direct sunlight, drafts, doorways, skylights, and windows, in order to avoid “ghost readings” that could lead to unnecessary furnace or air conditioner cycling.

You will save energy by only heating or cooling as much as necessary, for the occupants and time of day. Program your thermostat now and start saving energy and money.

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