October 29, 2013

With summer just around the corner, you know your utility bills are going to skyrocket. The best setting for your AC system is one that will keep you and your family comfortable without wasting your hard-earned money by running your HVAC systems longer than necessary.
No one wants to be uncomfortable when relaxing at home. Unfortunately, constantly running your system puts you at risk of a costly repair or replacement of your AC unit.

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Lowering Your Energy Bill

How can you be budget-conscious without sacrificing comfort when relaxing in your own home? The answer might be one simple change to your AC system by using technology to your advantage: replacing your current thermostat and installing a programmable thermostat.

Your thermostat is a tool that can help you achieve the comfort that you want while saving money too. The newest thermostats out there can take the pressure off your HVAC system and keep you comfortable during the most important times of the day.

Related: How Much Money Are You Saving With Your HVAC Unit?

Can a Programmable Thermostat Really Lower My Cooling Bills?

The answer is a resounding, “Yes!” Energy Star, the government-backed program that certifies products as energy-efficient, reports that cooling costs for your home account for over 25% of your energy bill. A programmable thermostat can reduce that bill by an average of $180.00 per year.

Related: Stay in Control of Energy Costs By Knowing These 3 Performance Ratings

A programmable thermostat is a thermostat that is designed to adjust the temperature according to a series of pre-programmed settings that take effect at different times of the day. Every programmable thermostat comes with four pre-programmed settings. Many have additional features such as:

  • Digital backlit displays
  • Voice and phone programming
  • Touch-pad screen programming
  • Vacation/hold feature
  • Alert to problems with your heating/cooling system
  • Alert to change your filter

Unlike a manual thermostat, a programmable thermostat gives you control of your cooling and heating depending on the time of day and situation.

With a manual thermostat, if you leave for work or vacation without remembering to change the setting, your money is going to cool an empty house until you return. With the newer apps available, you can change and program your thermostat from anywhere in the world via a computer or your mobile phone.

Related: 5 HVAC Energy Savings Tips You May Have Missed

Things To Consider In Choosing A Programmable Thermostat

Of course, the first thing you’re looking for is a high-efficiency thermostat that can maintain your home’s ideal comfort level. You also want one that can improve your furnace/cooling system’s energy efficiency. You should also look for one that’s reliable and easy to use.

Energy Management

Seven-day scheduling and an “away” feature that allows you to override preset programming are important energy management features. High-end thermostats calculate how long it will take your HVAC system to bring the building up to the target temperature. Sensors that monitor and alert you of equipment problems, remind you of regular maintenance and integrate a humidifier/dehumidifier in your system are significant for overall energy management.

Design and Setup

Look for a system that’s designed for easy use. If you’re using a remote system, look for one that has simple controls that are similar to both the physical unit and the mobile app, so you’re learning only one control scheme. Try to find a company that offers customer service options like live chat, phone, and email support. On-line tutorials and forums are also a plus for using and maintaining your thermostat.

Top Rated Programmable Thermostats

t Learning Thermostat Price Range: $200-$300

Over time, this thermostat learns, adjusts and programs itself to your family’s lifestyle and schedule. Working with most home HVAC systems, this product is attractive and the company provides excellent customer support. It has sensors to monitor temperature, humidity, light, and movement and adjust the temperature automatically whenever the sensors indicate a change.

Honeywell Lyric Price Range: Under $150

The Lyric is compatible with most 24-volt HVAC systems. It supports three-stage heating and two-stage cooling systems. Its Fine Tune feature analyzes the outdoor weather, temperature and humidity to optimize your HVAC system. The Smart Cues feature notifies you of malfunctions and regular maintenance chores. You can access Honeywell’s technical support via phone, email or live chat. The Lyric allows you to adjust settings by using its touch screen, the circular control on the unit and its mobile app. It’s not the simplest control design but with the company’s great customer service, it gets high marks in smart thermostat reviews.

Ecobee3 Price Range: $200-$300

This thermostat offers four heating stages and supports two-stage cooling, which allows you to configure heating and cooling zones when rooms are occupied or empty. It also has auto-scheduling, analyzes to personal living patterns and evaluates weather and humidity. A feature unique to the Ecobee3 is the use of remote sensors to detect motion and temperature in other areas of your home.

General Temperature Setting Recommendations for Programmable Thermostats

During the hot-weather season in Las Vegas, NV Energy recommends the following for households:

  • Set their thermostat temperature setting between 78 and 80 degrees when they’re at home during the day
  • The setting can be raised 5 to 10 degrees during sleep periods or when everyone’s away from home
  • In cold-weather season, the agency suggests setting the thermostat at 68 degrees when everyone is at home
  • Lower the setting to as low as 55 degrees when not at home

Related: Are Your Programmable Thermostat Settings Correct?

Programmed Savings

For optimal savings, consider turning your heating or cooling system off completely when you’re away from home for more than four hours. Contrary to popular opinion, it takes less energy to heat or cool an unconditioned home after four hours than it does to keep the system running for the same time period.

That’s because an HVAC system that continues to operate until it reaches your ideal temperature actually consumes less energy than one that continually cycles on and off.

Also, you can have your unit come back on and begin adjusting your home’s temperature 15-30 minutes before your normal scheduled return time. That leaves 8-10 hours of resting time for your systems unit and your wallet.

Extra Savings Tips

The amount of time that your heater or air conditioner needs to run to reach your ideal temperature depends on a number of factors, including the system’s size, the design of your home and the level of insulation of your home’s building envelope.

You can improve your system’s efficiency with regular home AC maintenance service and with home improvements that make your home easier to heat and cool.

Related: Why HVAC Maintenance Is Important in Las Vegas (Homeowners Guide)

Whether you want to enhance your HVAC system’s performance with a scheduled tune-up or install a programmable thermostat, The Cooling Company experts are here to help. We take pride in providing products and services that enhance your comfort at home, or your office while lowering your monthly energy bills.

Contact us today to schedule service or to learn more about optimizing your temperature settings.

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