Thermostat Talk: How to Keep Your Thermostat Working Efficiently

Let’s be frank. You probably don’t think too much about the thermostat until it’s time to bump the temperature up or down. But we really owe a debt of gratitude to these gadgets that hang out in our homes without much notice. Without them, we’d be turning the heat or air on and off manually when the air inside gets too warm or cool.

The main job of your thermostat is to automatically regulate and maintain a comfortable temperature in your home. It can only do that if you manage it efficiently and avoid things like setting it at extreme temperatures (spoiler alert: doing that won’t heat or cool your home any faster). So, what can you do to make sure your thermostat and HVAC system are working together efficiently and not wasting energy?

Be reasonable about how you set your thermostat.

When outside temperatures are more extreme in winter and summer months, your thermostat and HVAC system work double time to keep indoor temps at a comfortable level. The greater the difference between the outdoor and indoor temps, the harder your system has to work, and the more energy it uses. You can help nip that in the bud by keeping your thermostat set at a moderate temperature. Setting the thermostat as close to the outdoor temperature as possible—still keeping things comfortable inside, of course—will help it not to work so hard. Now, we’re not saying you need to keep the thermostat set at 55° when it’s freezing outside, but don’t crank it up so high that the system is constantly running.

Don’t try to get your system to work faster by setting it at an extreme temp.

Whether you’re freezing cold in January or sweating bullets in July, avoid the temptation to crank the temperature on your thermostat way up or down. Contrary to what you might believe, this won’t help things warm up or cool down faster. It’ll just force the system to work harder for longer to reach that inappropriately high or low temp. While you wait for things to warm up, put on some thick socks and a sweatshirt or electric blanket. If you’re impatient to cool down, grab an ice pack from the freezer and put it on your neck or chest for a few minutes. Once that immediate need is taken care of, you’ll find that the usual temperature you set your thermostat on is probably enough to maintain comfort.

Go digital with a smart thermostat.

Having a programmable thermostat—especially a smart thermostat you can control remotely—is one of the easiest ways to save energy and money on heating and cooling your home. When you’re not at home, set the thermostat closer to the outside temperature. There’s no use wasting energy to cool or warm a house when there’s no one there to enjoy it. Either program the heating/cooling to kick on before you’re due to arrive home or use a smartphone app to bump the temp up or down when you leave work. The air will be exactly how you like it by the time you arrive home.

Above all, make sure to have preventive maintenance done on your HVAC system and keep up with care and cleaning. All the work you do to program your thermostat will go to waste if your system is suffering from clogged air filters and dirty compressors. These things cause the entire system to work harder, using more and more energy, no matter how efficiently you set your thermostat. Be sure to schedule regular maintenance and have small issues repaired before they become big problems.

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