Upgrade Your Thermostat for Convenience and Savings
LESLIE: Eva in Florida is on the line and has a cooling question. How can we help you today?
EVA: My home is 40 years old and I’ve been in it from the time it was built. I’ve had two change-outs on the air-conditioning unit.
TOM: That’s about right.
EVA: It’s a central air-conditioning unit. And every time these guys come in – I have one guy come in once every six or eight months to check the cooling or the heating unit to make sure everything is up to snuff. And every time they come in, they say, “Well, you ought to update your thermostat.” And I’ve had them tell me three or four times that I need to replace my thermostat.
Well, I had a friend of mine who tells me – he says, “Well” – he said, “Basically, all your thermostat does – heat, cool and shut off.”
TOM: So, I think what – have they mentioned to you that you might want to install a clock setback thermostat, Eva?
EVA: Well, they just said thermostats; they didn’t tell me any particular kind.
TOM: I’m betting that you have a very simple thermostat, which is heating and cooling, and you just set it and forget it, right?
EVA: That’s correct.
TOM: So what they might be suggesting is that you replace the old thermostat with an updated one that has a clock setback built into that. And how that can help you – and it helps you more in the cooling – in the winter season, which you don’t get a lot of down in Pensacola. But when it gets chillier, you can set the heat to be a certain temperature at the day and then another temperature at night, so you don’t waste heat at night when you’re tucked nice and warm and cozy under the comfort of the blankets.
EVA: Yeah. But I just leave my thermostat at one – at 70 degrees at night. I don’t change it.
TOM: Well, if you just leave it and you don’t change it, then you might be fine with that 40-year-old thermostat. If you want the technology and the energy savings of a thermostat that can go up and down, based on a clock, then you would go to a clock setback. But there’s nothing wrong with leaving the one you have if it’s working properly for you.
EVA: And is it – either way, I’m going to use the same amount financially?
LESLIE: If you’re truly just leaving it exactly where it is?
EVA: Yeah. But when I get up in the morning, I have to turn it on so that it comes back up to warm up the house.
LESLIE: Correct. If you’ve got a clock setback thermostat or a programmable thermostat, you can enter in your usage. So you can say, “OK, at 7:00 in the morning or 6:00 in the morning” – whatever time, maybe a half-an-hour or so before, you know, you’re going to get up – “set it to such-and-such temperature.” And then you can say, “OK. And then at this time, when I go to bed, drop it down to this temperature.” This way, you never even have to go over to the thermostat. You can just say, “Bloop” and it’ll do that program for the day, so you don’t have to do anything at all.
Then, say, you’re going on vacation or you’re out of town, you can have an “away” setting and set it to that so that you’ve got it, obviously, at much lower temperatures and it’s not running that program while you’re not there, wasting that energy and your dollars.
So it depends. If you want to sort of take yourself out of the equation and have your thermostat do its thing on its own, a programmable thermostat really is what you’re looking for.
EVA: Yeah, OK. Well, thank you very much, dear.
TOM: Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.