Bill's Bright Ideas:
Making Your Thermostat Work for You
This time of year NSTAR’s Customer Care representatives hear a familiar concern from customers saying, ‘I’m not doing anything differently yet my electric bill just skyrocketed.’ This despite the fact they kept the thermostat setting low.
When that brutal cold hits, your furnace works overtime, running longer, using more energy, and coming back on more quickly as it fights to maintain a consistent indoor temperature. At the same time it’s battling the outdoor climate which is drawing heat. Understanding how a thermostat works and using it properly can help stretch your energy dollars.
Turning your thermostat back 10 to 15 degrees for eight hours can save 5 to 15 percent a year on
When the temperature inside reaches the setting you’ve chosen, the system shuts off. When the temperature begins to drop again, the thermostat automatically turns the furnace back on.
You can easily save energy in the winter by setting the thermostat to 68 degrees while you're awake and setting it lower while you're asleep or away from home.
According to the Department of Energy, turning your thermostat back 10 to 15 degrees for eight hours can save 5 to 15 percent a year on your heating bill – a savings of as much as one percent for each degree if the setback period is eight hours long. A programmable thermostat is a great way to automatically maintain the temperature settings you prefer.
Though it may seem counter-intuitive, the lower the interior temperature of the home the slower the heat loss. So the longer your house remains at the lower temperature, the more energy you save. That’s because the house has lost less energy than it would have at the higher temperature. That’s especially true if the house is properly sealed-up and insulated.
If you are not sure about your home’s energy efficiency, here’s a test. If you suspect a window in your house is leaking cold air, stand in front of it with a hot mug of liquid. Watch the steam. Does it rise – or does it go streaming right towards the window?
What’s happening to the steam is what’s happening to your heat, and that’s how you know it’s time to schedule a no-cost Mass Save Home Energy Assessment.
During an energy assessment, you’ll receive a report analyzing your home’s energy efficiency and you may also qualify to have a programmable thermostat installed at no cost. You’ll also receive information about energy efficiency programs, rebates, incentives, no-interest financing and more.
For more high efficiency heating tips, visit NSTAR’s Energy Efficiency section. In my next column, I’ll be discussing springtime energy efficiency tips.
Bill Stack is NSTAR's energy efficiency spokesman. He can be reached by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. If you're a member of the media and would like to arrange an interview with Bill, please call Mike Durand (508-441-5831) or Rhiannon D'Angelo (617-424-2116).