THE OPTIMAL HVAC TEMPERATURES TO SAVE THE MOST ON YOUR POWER BILL
When stifling summer or frigid winter temperatures set in, homeowners have a tendency to reach for the thermostat and crank it up or down in order to stay comfortable. A few weeks later, they discover that their energy bill has skyrocketed and wonder why it drastically increased.
#1 USE BEDTIME AND NIGHTS OUT OF THE HOUSE TO CONSERVE ENERGY.
When your family is asleep or away from the house, you don’t need the HVAC system to run at maximum capacity. Even though you might enjoy coming home to a pre-heated or -cooled home, you’ll save a lot of money by giving your heating and cooling system a break while you aren’t there. In fact, by raising your indoor temperature just 7 to 10 degrees when you leave the house for a few hours, you will be able to save up to 10% on your cooling bill.
According to a study by the National Institute of Health, the body experiences more restful sleep at night when it reaches thermoneutrality — a state of thermal balance between the person and their environment. In order to achieve this state, the surrounding nighttime environment should rest at 86 degrees with minimal clothing and bedding, or 60 to 66 degrees with pajamas and light covers. So, one way to get a good night of sleep and save on energy during the summer is to raise the thermostat to a warm temperature of, say, 80 degrees, dress in lighter pajamas and cover yourself with a sheet. If this is too toasty, use the soft breeze of a fan to lull yourself to sleep. In the winter, bundle up and turn the thermostat down.
#2 INVEST IN A PROGRAMMABLE THERMOSTAT AND ADJUST IT TO SUIT YOUR SCHEDULE.
If you don’t want to manually turn off the thermostat every time you go out for the day or retire to bed, you might consider investing in a programmable thermostat like Nest’s learning thermostat. This saves running the system while you aren’t there, but you also don’t return home or wake up to a stuffy or chilly house. The thermostat will have begun to warm or cool the environment shortly before you arrived, or just before your wake-up time.
As you program your thermostat temperatures for your at-home time, keep the US Department of Energy’s seasonal recommendations for resting temperatures in mind. When you’re at home in the summer, they recommend staying at 78 degrees. This might seem like an uncomfortable indoor temperature for the summer, but it actually prevents heat from flowing into your home as quickly and reduces the energy required to cool things down when you do decide to lower the thermostat. In the winter, 68 is a good temperature to stay at when you’re at home, but you can lower it slightly when you plan to be away from home — just make sure to keep it above 55 degrees to keep your pipes from freezing.
#3 CALCULATE THE COSTS OF YOUR PREFERRED TEMPERATURES AND MAKE INFORMED CHANGES.
Before you settle on a summer or winter temperature for your home, consider this: for every degree you raise or lower the thermostat, you are either raising or lowering your HVAC power costs by 3 to 5%. For example, if you keep indoor temperatures at 71 during the summer and your current bill averages $150, raise the thermostat just 4 degrees and you could save up to 30 dollars on the next bill.
While this might not sound like much, the savings add up over time to a substantial amount of money. If the savings aren’t worth it to you, having this information will at least help you feel more in control of your HVAC bills and allow you to make more informed decisions about your heating and cooling usage.