How to Save Energy with a Programmable Thermostat

Most gas- and oil-fueled central heating systems can be updated with a programmable thermostat that can help save energy and money.

One of the more common myths we run into is customers who think that turning down the heat will make it take longer to heat the house back up. But this simply isn’t so.   Using a programmable thermostat is an energy-efficient way to take the guesswork out of home comfort.

A programmable thermostat comes with preset programs designed to save energy for you. However, the preset design doesn’t work for every household. Luckily, programmable thermostats can be customized for programs that run daily or weekly.

For example, if you work out of the house the same hours that the kids are at school, set the program to turn off the HVAC system while out of the house. You can set it to switch back on in time for your return. Your weekend schedule is probably different from your weekday schedule, so set the weekend days according to when you’re normally home or away. Day and night also have different heating and cooling requirements.

During the winter, you can program the thermostat to turn down before bed and through the night and go back up in time to give you a warm morning.  Keeping the temperature to 68 °F while you are awake can keep the house comfortable and setting it lower while you are asleep or away saves energy.

Don’t forget to switch the settings when the weather changes. For the warmer months, you can keep the house warmer while you are away, and setting the temperature to 78 °F when you are around to enjoy the cool air.

If your routine changes, you can use the manual override option to switch off the preset or customizable program, without undoing the entire system.

According to, by turning your thermostat back 10 °â€“15 ° for 8 hours, you can save about 5 percent–15 percent a year on your heating bill—a savings of as much as 1 percent for each degree if the setback period is eight hours long.

While most HVAC systems can benefit from installing a programmable thermostat, they are not recommended for heat pump systems. A programmable thermostat only works like an air conditioner in cooling mode, so any energy savings done during warmer months are negated during the winter when the heat pump system will operate inefficiently if not used according to design.

We understand that each family has different heating and cooling needs and will work with you to find the programmable thermostat that works best with your existing HVAC system.

T.F. O’Brien services the Long Island, New York area.

Our goal is to help educate our customers about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).  For more information about preventive maintenance and other HVAC topics, please download our free  Home Comfort Resource guide.

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