It’s a wintry mix outside. You might have the fireplace going, as it’s the perfect weather to grab a hot chocolate and cozy up with a good book. Full of hot cocoa, you’ve fallen headlong into a page-turning memoir when a sudden and intense heat sweeps you out of the story. Dazed, you realize you’re a sweaty mess, you’ve profusely sweat through your shirt, and now you’ve got to get up and track down the family member who tampered with the thermostat!
Let the thermostat wars begin!
Look to your left. Now, peer to your right. That’s correct: It’s the very people in your daily life who will turn on you. They’ll go behind your back, creeping over your shoulder to *click* *click* *click* the thermostat because they’re either too cold or too hot. You change it back. Then they mess with it again!
We’ve all been there. Everyone has an opinion on what should be a reasonable temperature for a house in winter. This is especially true in Texas, when one day it’s 80 degrees and the next it’s 40. This constant flux in temperature doesn’t paint a pretty picture for your utility bill, nor for the cold family member who’s about to get an earful for messing with the thermostat.
But that’s the point. There’s no hard-and-fast rule for determining the perfect thermostat setting so your entire family is comfortable. It depends entirely on your family.
Luckily, there are many helpful temperature guidelines you can follow to help save you money and keep (most) of the family happy. Let’s discuss the four big ones that can boost your home’s energy efficiency.
1. Set Your Thermostat to 68°F in Winter (Then Adjust to Your Family’s Comfort Level)
Start with 68°F while you’re awake. This is the recommended home temperature set by the Department of Energy (DOE) to save on utility bills in winter. If a family member is cold-natured, ask them to put on a sweater or pair of sweatpants. If that person still isn’t comfortable, then, of course, turn the room temperature up to meet their comfort level in conjunction with everyone else who might not want to be that warm. You don’t want to start yet another temperature war!
But when no one’s home, you should set it even lower (61°F to 65°F) to maximize your energy savings. In fact, according to the DOE, you can save as much as 10% a year on cooling and heating costs by turning your thermostat back 7° to 10°F for 8 hours a day from its normal setting. And if you’re in a milder climate (like Texas), the percentage of savings is even greater.
2. Get a Programmable Thermostat
Now, saving on your electricity bill is great, but constantly remembering having to adjust your thermostat all the time can be a bit much. When it comes to the thermostat, most of us really just want to “set it and forget it” — the easier, the better. That’s why having a programmable thermostat — a thermostat that automatically adjusts temperature settings throughout the day — can do this for you.
There are several high-tech options out there: Google Nest, Ecobee, Honeywell, Lux. Some have Amazon Alexa, some have Siri, some have Google Assistant. Heck, Google’s Nest Learning Thermostat can program itself based on your lifestyle and energy usage habits.
To be clear, you don’t need to buy the latest and greatest gadget on the market today. However, if you’re tired of manually adjusting the thermostat every time you leave the house, you should consider a small investment in a decent programmable thermostat. Just freeing yourself from having to think about your thermostat settings is worth it.
The DOE offers a great base programmable schedule that you can adjust based on your lifestyle, which we’ve included below:
Here’s how a weekday schedule might look for a family with adults and children that are out of the house all day for work and school:
- 6:45 a.m.: The family wakes up to get ready for the day. The temperature of the house is 68°F; the heat automatically turned on a bit earlier so it would hit this temperature by 6:30.
- 7:45 a.m.: The family leaves the house and the thermostat is set to 56°F. By turning their thermostat back 10° to 15° for 8 hours, the family can save 5% to 15% a year on their heating bill — a savings of as much as 1% for each degree if the setback period is eight hours long.
- 4:30 p.m.: The family starts returning home from work and school. The heat turned back on a bit before this so the house would again be 68°F for their return.
- 10:30 p.m.: The whole family has gone to bed (bundled in warm pajamas and snuggled under blankets), and the thermostat is again set to 56°F.
3. Change Out Your Weatherstripping
None of the above efforts are worth it if your home isn’t well-insulated. It all starts with checking the weatherstripping around your doors and windows to determine whether or not you have any drafts in your home.
Bad weatherstripping can cost you up to 30% in air conditioning costs, but luckily, drafts are easy to fix. Just visit your local home improvement store, pick up a roll of weather stripping for $7 or $8 from Lowes. It’s essential that you choose the right weatherstripping for the right places in your home and then install it properly.
4. Consider a Change in Energy Companies
While there are many ways to save money on your electricity bill (we even wrote another blog on the subject), it could be time to switch to a new electricity provider if you don’t see the savings you want.
We know what you’re thinking: We’re just saying this because we want you to switch to Chariot Energy. While that’s true, we fundamentally believe that the right energy company can make all the difference in your electricity bill. If you’re actively taking steps to reduce your energy usage and you’re not seeing results, you need a new plan or a new energy company. Here’s our guide on how to shop for electricity in Texas that makes it easy for you to decide and take that next step.
To quickly recap, we recommend:
- Setting your thermostat at 68 degrees in the winter to lower your electricity costs
- Considering purchasing a programmable thermostat to make saving simpler
- Replacing old weatherstripping to make sure your home is free of drafts
- Reviewing other electricity plans and companies on the market
Put an end to the thermostat wars today! Get out there and save some money on your electricity bill while keeping your entire family warm.