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The benefits of programmable thermostats

thermostat air conditioning
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Programmable thermostats are widely used during cold weather months in order to trim energy bills down, but if you're not making use of your thermostat during summer, you may be spending more money than you have to. Year-round use of programmable thermostats can help reduce cooling and heating costs by several hundred dollars annually without compromising comfort. Today's thermostats are also easier to use than in years past. If you haven't been taking advantage of your thermostat when temperatures rise, your hard-earned cash may be blowing out the window. Here's how to save money and energy with the simple touch of a finger.

Updated Features – Today’s new generation of programmable thermostats are typically either electromechanical or digital, with some models combining elements of both types. In order to save the maximum amount of money, choosing an easy to use, digital thermostat with features including multiple energy-saving schedules may make the most sense. Many of these feature easily programmable touch screens, a huge programming plus. Also, consider opting for models that provide multiple settings for weekdays and weekends. If your schedule varies widely during the week, seven-day models providing maximum flexibility are also available. Other features to look for include auto changeover switches, filter-change reminders and full-memory save. These can all help safeguard against over-heating or cooling and can support sustainment of maximum comfort levels in the home, particularly when temperature variances range significantly from day to evening.

Intuitive Programming - Your thermostat is only as good as your ability to work it. Look for a backlit screen with clear and easy-to-read onscreen prompts and large readouts in order to eliminate guess work and energy-sapping errors, even if you can't find your reading glasses in the middle of the night. Some models even include an easy-to-read, onscreen warning feature to let you know if your energy use is too high or floating above energy-saving levels. To get the most benefit from your thermostat, choose a model that allows for temperature setbacks so you can adjust the temperature to your sleeping and waking times easily.

Where To Put It - The thermostat's location is key. Each model is different, so make sure to abide by the manufacturer's recommendations for installation. Typically, the thermostat should be placed away from direct sunlight and drafts on an interior wall, away from obstructions such as large pieces of furniture so as to allow for natural air currents to reach it. Ease of access is also important.

Optimum Temperature - Everyone's comfort level is different, but keeping all members of the household in mind, maintaining a thermostat setting of 78 degrees when you are at home and need a cool environment may be optimum, from both a comfort and energy-saving perspective. Programmable thermostats allow for the home temp to be higher when you are away and will automatically adjust to your favorite level in anticipation of your return, allowing for optimum comfort and savings year round.

Corey Whelan is a freelance writer in New York. Her work can be found at

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