As summer winds down, and the nights start to take on a little chill, I’ve started thinking about the winter heating season again. We have a geothermal heating system in our house which is fairly efficient, but I’m always looking for more ways to save energy and money. To that end, I went out and purchased a programmable thermostat last weekend.
We were told when we installed our heat pump that we shouldn’t use a programmable thermostat. The installer said that when a heat pump is in heating mode, setting back its thermostat can actually make it run less efficiently, in effect cancelling out any savings gained by lowering the temperature. However, some companies have recently begun selling specially designed programmable thermostats for heat pumps, and they now say that using one of these can make setting the thermostat back cost effective. We’ll give it a try this year and see what happens.
In general, programmable thermostats can be an excellent investment. If you are using it for controlling the temperature while you are sleeping and while you are at work, you can see some very good savings and wake up to a comfortable home. In most cases, the thermostat will pay for itself in less than two years. To learn more about how you can save money and energy this winter, check out the Department of Energy’s Energy Savers programmable thermostat page. You can also find a programmable thermostat consumer calculator there that will help you get an estimate of how much you might save.
If you want to see something really cool, check out this Apple-like foray into domestic gadgets called the Nest Thermostat. Designed by former Apple designer Tony Fadell, the thermostat programs itself over a weeks time based on how you are adjusting the settings. Not only is it simple to use, but it’s cute and you can access and control the thermostat from your office or your smartphone.
Update: The Penny Pinchers have been pulling away! We need your help to get back in this game. The Family Energy FACE-OFF is a year-long energy saving competition between two families from Earth Day 2012 to Earth Day 2013. Our family, the Mill Pond Minimizers, gets points when you join our team and do energy saving actions. Won’t you join us? It’s easy, just:
- Click here: http://www.cleanenergyresourceteams.org/faceoff/join-team-jeff
- Click on any energy saving actions you have completed.
- Submit your actions and join the Mill Pond Minimizers!