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Set your thermostat for summer savings

7/1/2016 2:35:20 PM

Heating and cooling account for about 55 percent of the energy used in Minnesota homes. But you can trim those energy costs by simply resetting your thermostat when you are asleep or away from home. 

A programmable or smart thermostat lets you do this automatically, with no worries about forgetting to turn it up or down. 

Programmable thermostats can store and repeat multiple daily settings, which you can also manually override without affecting the rest of the daily or weekly program.  

Priced from about $20 to $150 (depending on features), it will likely pay for itself in energy savings after one year. 

In summer, set your thermostat as high as comfortably possible. Keep your house warmer than normal when you are away and then lower the thermostat setting to about 78 degrees when you are at home and want to stay cool.

In winter, keep your home cooler when you are away or asleep and warmer while awake at home. By turning your thermostat back 7 to 10 degrees for 8 hours a day in the winter, and by programming the setting in summer to suggested levels, you can save about 10 percent per year on your heating and cooling bills.

With a programmable thermostat, you can return temperatures to normal before you wake up or return home.  To maximize performance and efficiency, place thermostats away from direct sunlight, drafts, doorways, skylights and windows.

Smart thermostats operate essentially the same way as programmable models, with one significant difference: They “learn” your routines and preferences and adjust temperatures accordingly. 

Because many homeowners with programmable thermostats actually fail to “program” them, a smart thermostat may be a better and more convenient option to achieve energy savings.

Check with your utility (or www.dsireusa.org) to see if it offers a rebate for programmable or smart thermostats. For more on thermostats, visit the U.S. Department of Energy’s Energysaver website or the thermostat section of the Home Energy Guide (pdf). To watch a video on operating a programmable thermostat, visit ENERGY STAR web resources.

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Minnesota Energy Tips is provided twice a month by the Minnesota Department of Commerce, Division of Energy Resources. Contact the division’s Energy Information Center at energy.info@state.mn.us or 800-657-3710 with energy questions.

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