When used correctly, programmable thermostats can be a boon for energy savings during heating and cooling seasons.

General guidelines are that you should be scheduling your thermostat to be lowered when you are at work and at night.The Department of Energy recommends that you set your thermostat to 68°F while you’re home and 60 – 62°F while you are away and at night. A great goal is to hit a setback point for 8 hours or more. The real question is: How low can you go? (General rule of thumb is stay above 55 to avoid pipes freezing).

Diligent heat adjusters with day and night time setbacks will not see the same level of savings as homes that have been maintaining a consistent temperature. Regardless, programmable thermostats offer consistency to these schedules ensuring that you are hitting you setbacks each and every day.


 Your savings will vary greatly depending on how much you are already adhering to a heating schedule.


One of the biggest barriers to seeing big savings with programmable thermostats is what we’re going to call the “pat on the back” effect. When people do a good job of setting their thermostat back during the day, they justify turning up the heat and overruling their preset temperatures when they get home because they captured savings earlier in the day. This is a big no-no if you are trying to save energy!


If you’re going to use a programmable thermostat, set it and leave it. No fussing with it!


When you start using your programmable thermostat, be sure to schedule your vacation settings so that it is easy to turn down the dial before leaving home for a few days. Other settings will allow you program weekdays and weekends so you can account for varying schedules throughout the week and keep everyone in the family happy and warm.

In order to see significant savings, a programmable thermostat should not be scheduled for a higher temperature than you are currently using. If you are having trouble feeling warm in your home, check out some our tips and tricks for staying warm or consider getting an energy assessment.

For even greater ease of use, convenience, comfort and energy savings, smart thermostats offer even more features to help you save energy.

Setbacks with Heat Pumps

Sudden increases in temperature should be avoided for heat pumps. Heat pumps take longer to heat up your home and in cold weather, raising the temperature level too quickly, can trigger the electric resistance auxiliary heat to kick in. In many instances, this can negate the savings you made while setting your thermostat back. If you want to set your heat pump back during the day, try a schedule that incrementally increases the heat back up to your at home settings. Many smart thermostats are programmed to take this into consideration.

Other thermostat tips

  • If you are going to override your thermostat, make sure to do a temporary hold so that your thermostat will hit your next programmed set point and get back on schedule.
  • Use a permanent or vacation hold when you will be gone for more than 24 hours to set your thermostat at a low setting for the whole day.
  • Cranking your heat up to 80° will not heat up your house faster! By doing this you are likely to forget to turn the thermostat down quickly enough and can overheat your house and gobble up lots of energy.
  • Thermostats should be located on interior walls, out of contact of direct light, and where air can move freely.