Action Guide

Get With the Program

Difficulty: Difficulty: 2 Expense: Expense: 2 Savings: 497 lbs CO2 / $91 Bookmark and Share

Program your thermostat for smart heating and cooling (and lower bills)

Why You Should Do It

Programmable thermostats are a smart way to stay comfortable and reduce energy waste in your home.  There's no reason to spend money to heat or cool your home when there's nobody home to take advantage of it!  Set back your thermostat by 8° for 8 hours while no one is home during the day and/or while you're sleeping to keep your family comfortable without over-spending.

What It Costs

Depending on whether you use a simple programmable thermostat or splurge on one where you can set a difference schedule for every day, the cost can range from $25 to over $100.

How to Do It

  1. Select “Add to My Challenge” and pledge to Get With the Program.
  2. Go to a local hardware store (or order online to save a trip) and purchase a programmable thermostat.
  3. Choose the model that will fit your schedule.  Go to the ENERGY STAR website for advice on choosing the right programmable thermostat for you.
  4. Follow the instructions for installing your new, smart thermostat, or call an HVAC professional if you need help.
  5. Set the time on your new thermostat and try the pre-set 8 for 8 settings for a week - set back your heat or cooling by 8° for 8 hours while no one is home during the day and/or asleep at night.  This setting comes standard in all new programmable thermostats!
  6. Relax and congratulate yourself on saving energy while staying comfortable and making a difference for Minnesota!

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Q.

    Can programmable thermostats be used with all heating systems?

    Programmable thermostats are most useful when used with forced air furnaces.  They don't play as well with boilers or hot water systems, which can take much longer to respond. 

    If you purchase a multi-stage forced air furnace, you won't need to worry about the programmable thermostat because the furnace will do the work for you!  Multi-stage furnaces automatically use less energy once they have heated a home to the desired level.
  • Q.

    If I set my thermostat back, won't my furnace have to work extra hard to heat my home up?

    No: while your furnace or boiler will run continuously while the house is warming up, the energy used to heat up the house is balanced by the energy saved when it is resting while the house cools down.  So the time in between means real energy savings!

  • Q.

    What are the ENERGY STAR programmable thermostat temperature guidelines?

    Refer to the table below to see the ENERGY STAR programmable thermostat temperature guidelines.

    Setting Time Setpoint Temperature (Heat) Setpoint Temperature (Cool)
    Wake 6:00 a.m. <= 70 degrees F  >= 78 degrees F
    Day 8:00 a.m.  Setback at least 8 degrees F Setup at least 7 degrees F
    Evening 6:00 p.m.  <= 70 degrees F  >= 78 degrees F
    Sleep 10:00 p.m.  Setback at least 8 degrees F  Setup at least 4 degrees F

     

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