Generally speaking, your thermostat is a fairly simple device. This is particularly true if you are still using an older, manual thermostat with a dial and a slider. When you want more heat in the wintertime, you just turn up the thermostat and get the extra heat. And when it’s too stuffy? You turn the thermostat back down. Pretty basic stuff, right?
But, adjusting your thermostat with this “up-and-down” pattern based on how warm your house currently feels can waste energy without providing better comfort—it can even shorten the service life of your heating system due to the extra strain.
How a Thermostat Operates
We want you to be able to set your thermostat so you get the most in comfort and in energy savings. But we first need to clarify how a thermostat actually works. It’s not like a gas pedal for a vehicle, where the more you push down the faster it goes.
Your thermostat is essentially an “on-off” switch that turns your furnace, or any other heating system you have, on and off. When you set your thermostat higher than the current indoor temperature in order to request heat, the thermostat turns the heater on and keeps it on until it reaches that set temperature.
Setting your thermostat higher only makes the heater run longer, it doesn’t put out larger quantities of heat or heats your home any faster. You should aim to keep your thermostat at a steady temperature, one for the daytime when people are home, and one at night or when your house is vacant.
Understanding Heat Loss
Another reason it’s not a good idea to rely on turning your thermostat up as high as it will go for winter heat is that when temperatures are at their coldest outdoors, your home will lose heat faster, essentially making you feel colder and negating the increased comfort you were aiming for.
“So, Where Should I Set my Thermostat This Winter?”
According to the US Department of Energy, the recommendation is to aim for 68°F during the day when people are home and set it back about 8° or so at night when everyone is sleeping or when the house is vacant.
Of course, personal preferences do play a role here and you may very well have household members that prefer it to be warmer, but we’re giving you the general recommendation that will conserve the most energy and save you the most money.
Consider a Programmable Thermostat
Using a Wi-Fi, smart, or even basic digital programmable thermostat can do you a lot of good. You put in the program you want your heater to turn on at, and then you don’t have to think about it.
The smart thermostat makes this process even easier, as it learns from your heating (and cooling) habits, and adjusts accordingly, developing their own energy savings programs based on your patterns of use. Reach out to our team today to learn more!