In a place with five months of summer like we have in Phoenix, energy costs can be significant. No one wants to spend more than they have to for air conditioning, and there is an easy way to save both money and energy when you are away from the house or at night while you are sleeping. Consider purchasing an electronic programmable thermostat. According to Salt River Project, one of the two major electricity providers for the greater Phoenix area, a programmable electronic thermostat can cut your cooling costs by up to 20%. That means that you should be able to recoup the cost of the thermostat in a relatively short period of time.
Ten Things to Know About Programmable Thermostats
- You'll need a thermostat for each heating/cooling unit that you have for your home.
- Many thermostats allow you to set the temperature for each of the 7 days of the week, at least 4 settings per day, or at least weekdays and weekends separately, 4 settings or more per day.
- Your programmable thermostat should allow manual overrides. When the next time setting is reached, it will automatically go back to operate on its settings. Many programmable thermostats have a vacation setting or hold setting that overrides the daily settings until you come home. That's convenient for long weekends away from home.
- If you are on a Time-of-Use-Plan or a Time Advantage Plan, use the programmable thermostat to set the air conditioner(s) to cool down a bit just before your high peak period, and then have the thermostat set to a reasonable, comfortable (but higher) temperature during that high peak period.
- Make sure you buy a thermostat that you understand, and has settings that you understand and can read. Most electronic programmable thermostats have digital displays. If it isn't easy to use, chances are you won't use it properly and then you won't get the most benefit from it.
- If you are replacing an existing manual thermostat, you might feel comfortable doing the installation yourself. It isn't complicated, and instructions are usually clear. If you never have any desire to touch anything that involves electricity, you're not alone. Then you should hire someone to install it for you.
- Your programmable thermostat should operate with a back-up battery to save the program in case of a power outage.
- I like the fact that my thermostats have the instructions printed on the inside cover, so I don't have to find the manual every time I want to make a change.
- During the summer, set the thermostat by 5 to 10 degrees higher when you are away from the house. Make sure that if you have pets in the house the temperature isn't too high. If you work at home every day, or have family members who are home every day, the benefit of a programmable thermostat will be less.
- A typical rule of thumb is that for every degree you raise the temperature in the summer for 8 hours (while you work or sleep), you'll save one percent on your cooling bill.
The Federal Citizen Information Center of the U.S. General Services Administration says, "The best thermostat for you will depend on your life style and comfort level in varying house temperatures. While automatic and programmable thermostats save energy, a manual unit can be equally effective if you diligently regulate its setting--and if you don't mind a chilly house on winter mornings. If you decide to choose an automatic thermostat, you can set it to raise the temperature before you wake up and spare you some discomfort. It will also perform consistently and dependably to keep your house at comfortable temperatures...."
Keep in mind that even though are winters are not severe in the desert, we do use heat, and a programmable thermostat can save money and energy in the winter months just as it does in the summer.
In the Phoenix area, you can purchase programmable thermostats at any home improvement or hardware store, like Home Depot, Lowe's, or Ace Hardware.