Gallery: VIDEO: How to Save Money and Energy With a Programmable Thermo...


If your wallet is already feeling the pinch from your monthly energy bill as we head into the colder months, you’ll be happy to know that you can keep those expenses down using a simple device called a programmable thermostat. We introduced these handy gadgets to you back in October and now we have a fun, informational video that makes it even easier to understand what programmable thermostats do and how they can save the average household about $180* a year. Click the video above to get the full scoop on how programmable thermostats work and what kinds of perks the latest models offer – including the ability to control your home’s temperature from bed, your office or even while you’re on vacation.

* Based on ENERGY STAR averages. The $180 savings assumes a typical, single-family home with a 10 hour daytime setback of 8° F in winter and setup of 7° F in summer, and an 8 hour nighttime setback of 8° F in winter and a setup of 4° F in summer.

Did you know that the average American household spends more than $2,200 a year on energy bills and close to half of that is on heating and cooling?  If you want to cut your next bill, one of the most effective ways is by installing a programmable thermostat.  You’ve probably heard about these useful gadgets before, but they can be a little intimidating for homeowners who have never used one. Luckily, the truth is they’re probably much less complicated than your DVR, and once you got the hang of it, they can save you up to $180 a year.

Unlike a regular thermostat, which pretty much keeps your house at the same temperature until you manually turn it up or down, a programmable thermostat can be preset and customized to regulate your house’s temperature according to your schedule. There are times when it doesn’t make sense for you to pay to heat or cool your home, like when you’re at work or on vacation, or times when you don’t need as much heating and cooling like when you’re asleep. You can tell your programmable thermostat what your schedule is like so that it can control your home’s temperature and optimize energy efficiency based on those times. It’s kind of like that old as-seen-on-TV slogan “just set it and forget it.” Let your programmable thermostat do the work and the thinking for you.

So now that you’re convinced and you know you want a programmable thermostat, let’s go over how to choose one that’s right for you. Different models can range in price from $20 to over $200. Deciding on how fancy of a system you want is up to you. One easy way to narrow it down is to decide between a 5-2 day, a 5-1-1 day, or a seven day. The 5-2 model is great for families that keep a five-day work week and a two-day weekend, but if you need a little more flexibility because you have different schedules on Saturday and Sunday, the 5-1-1 model is a great choice. Finally, if your schedule’s really, really erratic, then the seven day will let you program a different schedule for every single day of the week. No matter which one you pick if you choose a WiFi-enabled model, you’ll have the ability to program your thermostat from any location, including from your phone, your laptop, or your mobile device.

Purchasing a programmable thermostat is the first step, but in order to really maximize the savings you can achieve the key is to create a program that really works with your schedule. Most programmable thermostats come with preprogrammed settings based on the hours that a typical family might keep, but not everyone is the same. Maybe you prefer to go to bed at 2 a.m. and wake up at 11 a.m.; You can teach your thermostat to keep the same hours you do just by adjusting the preprogrammed times. Once you’ve decided on your schedule, you can adjust your setbacks and your setups. If you’re not familiar with those terms, a setback is the number of degrees that your thermostat drops the temperature at certain times of the day to save energy, and a setup is just the opposite. For example, in the winter you can make it so that your thermostat automatically knows to cut the heat after you leave for work. You can create a program and adjust it based on your comfort level until you get it right.

Now that you’ve got the basics, let’s talk about one of the cool features that the latest WiFi-enabled thermostats offer. The ability to control your thermostat from work, on the run, or even while on vacation.  Let’s say you’re stuck at work and you know you won’t be home for a few hours. With a WiFi-enabled thermostat, you can make sure you don’t waste money by controlling your house’s temperature with your smartphone or a computer. With a WiFi thermostat, you never have to worry about whether you left your heat on before you left for work or worse yet if you left your air conditioner running before you left for vacation.

Most WiFi-enabled thermostats have their own desktop programs or apps that allow you to control your home’s temperature using your iPad, phone, or computer. Having access to your thermostat via your computer is great, but what if you’re at the supermarket or sitting on the beach? Many WiFi-enabled thermostats have their own apps that allow you to receive high-low temperature alerts and control your heating and cooling right from your phone. An added bonus, you can control your heat or AC right from bed on those luxurious mornings you actually get to sleep in. Now that we’ve dropped some programmable thermostat knowledge on you, we hope you’ll be encouraged to go out and get one and start saving money and energy today. The planet and your wallet will thank you.

At The Home Depot, we pride ourselves on being sustainability minded. To make saving energy and money even easier, we’ve launched our EcoOptions website dedicated to green products such as WaterSense® and ENERGY STAR® labeled products and wood harvested from sustainable forests. EcoOptions also offers helpful tips for homeowners trying to go green to help you every step of the way. Whatever your home improvement project, we’ve got the organic solutions that can help make your home healthier and air cleaner; and products that can help you conserve water, be more energy-efficient and save money.


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  1. Beth Shea November 11, 2012 at 11:30 am

    Yuka- you are fantastic. I love this video and you are so informative!

  2. Tafline Laylin November 7, 2012 at 10:04 am

    I like the idea of programming the thermostat so that I can wake up to a nice toasty home on chilly days! Thanks for this great information.

  3. Charley Cameron November 6, 2012 at 11:15 am

    Fantastic information, thank you! Might have to see about one of these…

  4. Alyssa Alimurung November 6, 2012 at 9:38 am

    That’s so cool that you can control a thermostat from mobile devices!

  5. Diane Pham November 5, 2012 at 4:08 pm

    would love to have the wifi one.

  6. Mike Chino November 5, 2012 at 3:58 pm

    It’s great to have all this info laid out in an easy to understand video – I want a programmable thermostat!

  7. Morgana Matus November 5, 2012 at 3:55 pm

    Great tips! With the energy prices here in CA, I can use all of the savings I can get!

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