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Good Question: How Do You Use A Thermostat Efficiently?

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- The average household spends around $1,000 each year on heating and cooling bills. The good news is that there are ways to bring that down.

Programmable thermostats are one way to save money, but there's some debate over how to maximize their efficiency.

A neighborhood in Eagan wants to know: are thermostats more effective when left at a constant temperature?

You've heard the tips when it comes to saving a buck on heating: open your shades to let the sunlight in, turn your water heater down by 10 degrees and change that furnace filter monthly.

Thanks to this good question, we have a way the experts say could save you around $100 every year.

"I kind of think it's a girls verse guys thing, but my husband and I go back and forth on the temperature," Eagan resident Lisa Johnson said. "When he's not looking, I'll turn it down, and when I'm not looking, and I'll try to look, he'll turn it back up."

For many households, it's become a full-fledged war.

In Johnson's Eagan cul-de-sac, the war goes beyond finding the perfect temperature, it extends to how to save money in the process.

While Lisa Johnson believes in setting the thermostat lower during sleep and work hours, her husband, Ron, begs to differ.

"My husband is adamant that it should be set at a certain temperature, year round, all the time, never go up, never go down, because he says it costs more money to get the thermostat up, or to get the furnace, up and running," Johnson said.

WCCO-TV took the question to the experts at Xcel Energy.

"Typically, where you're going to see the most savings is where you reduce the temperature for about an 8-hour period, consistently," said Senior Marketing Business Consultant Crystal Manik.

Manik recommends dropping the temperature while you're sleeping or during the day when you are at work.

"By doing something as simple as that, you can reduce your energy costs by around $100 a year," Manik said. "This year, we've had an incredibly warm fall, going into winter, but I think we all know it's going to get cold, eventually."

It's reason to be proactive now. Though there methods conflict, it's something the Johnson family is trying to do to get their monthly $163 bill down.

Xcel says in general, most customers take their heat up to anywhere from 64 to 68 degrees for when they're in the house.

As for that debate to find your household's perfect temperature, if you crank it up to 90 degrees with hopes of getting the house warmer faster, Xcel says it doesn't really speed up the process.

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