There are a number of different ways to save on energy: comparing energy rates and switching to a provider who offers lower rates or more competitive rate plans is one; investing in green energy solutions is another. And, of course, the solution we hear most often: save on electricity by practicing more conservative energy use at home and at work.
Conserving electricity has a variety of forms: from unplugging electronics while they aren’t in use to turning down the heat a few degrees (or turning the A/C off when you aren’t at home) there are numerous solutions that can help you consume less electricity, and thus spend less on your electricity bill.
However, can products that allow you to program your energy use help when it comes to saving on costs? Theoretically, yes—but it’s all about how that technology is used.
Introducing programmable thermostats
Programmable thermostats, or smart thermostats, were designed to help save on energy by automatically cutting back on energy consumption via heating and cooling when they are the least likely to be in use. Ideally, they can help save on home energy costs by limiting the amount of energy that is consumed when the homeowners are at work; it can also help businesses save on energy costs by limiting the amount of energy that is consumed when the business is closed (for instance, overnight or on weekends).
Programmable thermostats can be programmed to turn the heat down (or raise the temperature on air cooling systems) during the hours it is least likely to be needed, and to turn the heat back up (or the A/C back on) for when the homeowner gets home. It’s an automated solution for individuals who often forget to adjust their heat settings before they leave, or for those who want to participate in savings, but still want to walk into a comfortable house when they get home from work. It’s also an ideal solution for those individuals who are on time of use (HOEP) rate plans.
In theory, programmable thermostats provide a great opportunity for home energy—and even workplace—savings.
On average, nearly half—42 per cent—of home energy costs go to heating and cooling the home, and a lot of the time, those costs are being put towards heating empty or unused spaces; for instance, when the homeowners are at work, the kids are at school, or the household is sleeping. Programmable thermostats will automatically turn the heat down during those periods, and that carries a significant potential for savings. As research has shown, turning the thermostat down by one degree Fahrenheit (approximately 0.55 degrees Celsius) for around eight hours can reduce your energy consumption by 1 per cent. Turning the heat down 10 degrees Fahrenheit (5.5 degrees Celsius) while you are at work for eight hours, and/or while you are asleep at night, could reduce your energy consumption by 10 per cent.
In fact, installing a programmable thermostat has been suggested to have the potential to save homeowners between 10 and 30 per cent on the heating and cooling portions of their energy bills; however, a number of consumers have reported much lower savings after installation, and some have even experienced an increase in energy use?
Why? It all comes down to use.
While programmable thermostats do help individuals save on energy when they are not at home, many set their thermostat higher than usual (or lower than usual in the summer) for when they are home, causing the energy savings to be lower than anticipated.
The bottom line is, programmable thermostats can help, but you have to be proactive in how you use them.