Thermostat Strategies

January 31, 2011 at 8:06 pm 4 comments

Is it more energy-efficient to turn your thermostat down while you are out of the house during the day or while you are asleep at night?

Doesn’t it take more energy to heat the house back up when you are home than it does to maintain a steady temperature?

These questions often come up at our workshops.  At a recent workshop in Old North Durham, we trained neighbors in installing a programmable thermostat.  Installing a programmable thermostat is one of the most energy-efficient upgrades you can make in your home, and you can do it yourself!

Generally speaking it is more energy-efficient to set your thermostat down when you leave the house for the day or when you sleep at night than it is to keep the temperature constant.  If you keep the temperature constant, the furnace is working all day long making heat, and the cracks in the house are sucking that heat into the great outdoors.  When you turn your thermostat down, your furnace does not have to work nearly as hard to produce heat.  You can program your thermostat to start heating the house an hour before you arrive home from work so that it is nice and toasty when you arrive.

For every 1° you turn down your thermostat during an 8 hour work day, you are saving on average 1% on your heating bill.  If you adjust your thermostat down 5° for an 8 hour work day and an 8 hour night of sleep you are saving on average 10% on your heating costs.

There is one important exception to this rule—if you have an electric heat pump, it is not a good idea to adjust your thermostat more than 2° at a time.  Stay tuned to a future post on what to do in this situation.


Entry filed under: Energy Tips, Learn Do Teach workshops.

Stephen Mullaney: Teacher, Father, Musician by Bike Matt Dudek: Biking Commuter

4 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Daniel  |  February 1, 2011 at 3:27 pm

    The best analogy I’ve heard is that heating your house is like inflating a leaky beach ball – the more pressure you put into the ball, the faster it leaks, so you should only pump it up when you’re ready to use it. In the same way, heat transfers more quickly when there’s a big difference between the inside and the outside, so letting the house cool down during the day and at night means you slow down the leak.

    • 2. Clean Energy Durham  |  February 1, 2011 at 4:52 pm

      That is a great analogy–I really like it! I think that would really make sense to a lot of people.

  • 3. Thermostat Strategies, Part II « Clean Energy Durham Blog  |  February 11, 2011 at 3:40 pm

    […] Now for the exciting conclusion to our previous post on thermostat strategies… […]

  • 4. Combi Boiler Installation Durham  |  March 18, 2011 at 9:08 pm

    Set the timer to switch off an hour or so before you normally go to bed – The house will stay warm and you’ll save a little on your heating bill


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

Trackback this post  |  Subscribe to the comments via RSS Feed

Clean Energy Durham

Thank you for visiting the Clean Energy Durham blog. You can also visit our web site at:



Error: Twitter did not respond. Please wait a few minutes and refresh this page.

%d bloggers like this: