A programmable thermostat is a very useful tool to achieve great savings in your energy bill. It allows you to have a preset cooling or heating schedule without having to manually handle it throughout the day. Since heating and cooling account for almost half of the energy bill, you can have a better control on your energy expenditure by using a programmable thermostat.
Thermostat Settings in the Summers
You should turn your cooling system’s thermostat at 78 degrees Fahrenheit in the summer when you are at home. If you plan to be out for more than 4 hours, the thermostat should be set so that the cooling starts when the temperature reaches 88 degrees Fahrenheit.
While using an air conditioner, do not set the thermostat at a temperature colder than normal. Instead of cooling your home faster, it actually results in unnecessary and excessive cooling, taking a toll on your energy bills.
It is estimated that for every 1 degree of setting higher than 78 degrees Fahrenheit in summers, you can save 6-8% in energy bills.
Thermostat Settings in the Winters
In winters, the thermostat setting should be at 68 degrees Fahrenheit during the day. It has been estimated that by turning your thermostat lower by 10 to 15 degrees Fahrenheit in winters, you can actually save 5-15% per annum in your energy bills.
Most programmable thermostats come with a vacation setting mode as well, which allows you to save energy if you want to remain out of the house for long periods.
Programing a thermostat for the utmost efficiency requires you to consider when you go to sleep in winters. If you prefer to go to bed at a cooler temperature in the night, you should program your thermostat to start the setback a bit ahead of time so that you can have a warm sleep.
If your house has many heating and cooling zones, you should not use just one thermostat for the entire house. In such a case, a programmed setback thermostat is required for each zone not only to save energy but also to provide maximum comfort.
How to Program a Thermostat
There are two basic types of thermostat: digital and electromechanical. There is a third category as well that combines the features of the first two.
A digital thermostat offers the most features including multiple setback settings and daylight savings option. These thermostats might prove difficult for some people to use but are worth learning about. The electromechanical thermostats are relatively easy to operate because they contain pegs and sliding bars.
Saving Energy with a Manual Thermostat
Although the effectiveness of a programmable thermostat cannot be matched by any other, one can still manage great energy savings by using a manual thermostat. First and foremost is the selection of its location. The thermostat should be located at a place that has natural and stable air currents.
Hence, it will give you good efficiency in a hallway on the ground floor.
In case of manual settings, one needs to be very vigilant about the settings or else they will not save any energy. Therefore, if you are going out for extended periods, you should increase the thermostat to avoid heating or cooling wastage.
Which Setting Is Better for Your Thermostat?
People often ask which mode is more energy-efficient for the thermostat: on or auto. The answer is auto. When you keep the thermostat in on mode, the blower keeps running even if the desired temperature has been reached, thus wasting energy and unnecessarily increasing your bills.
Electric Bill Rate
The cost of producing electricity has been rising for the last few years because the cost of the resources that go into its production are constantly increasing. The average consumer is being hit hard by these increasing energy prices. This means you need to control the cost wherever you can, even if that means shopping around for your electricity needs.
The average retail price in the US is 10.48 cents/kWh. Louisiana has the lowest rate of 7.79 cents/kWh, whereas Hawaii has the highest of 26.05 cents/kWh. What is the reason for this huge difference?
There are currently 17 states with a deregulated electricity market. This means various REPs (retail electricity providers) can offer different packages with different prices. Hence, consumers have the opportunity to select the REP that offers a plan that suits them.
Factors Affecting Variation
In a deregulated electricity market, the energy rates differ from REP to REP, even in the same region or city. Various factors play a role in determining the energy bill rate for an individual. These are discussed below:
Since every location is different, the prices are not the same due to different dynamics. The availability of fuel, local price regulations and availability of power plants are some important factors that change the price of one state from another.
For instance, in Hawaii, energy is produced from the expensive crude oil. On the contrary, Louisiana has one of the lowest rates due to different reasons. One of these reasons is the fact that the electricity supplier in the state, i.e., Entergy Louisiana, owns multiple power plants. This simply means that the company does not need to purchase electricity from other companies and, thus, is able to sell it at a lower price.
Depending on which fuel is used to produce electricity, the rates can vary. Washington and California, for instance, use hydropower because of the abundant moving water. In Washington, hydroelectric power produces two-thirds of its net electricity. Similarly, some states can utilize wind power to generate energy, which is quite inexpensive.
Energy prices can increase in periods of high demand. For example, in states experiencing hot weathers in the summer, the energy price escalates due to the usage of air conditioners. This is because quite often, energy companies have to rely on more expensive means of power generation to cope with the increase in demand during hot spells.
Transmission and Distribution
This part relates to the actual delivery of electricity to your house and may include fees for metering, billing, customer service, repairing damages in the system and other maintenance charges.
Fixed vs Variable Pricing Plan
Power supply companies may offer a fixed unit rate to the customer, so if you use the same numbers of units throughout the year, you monthly energy bill will remain the same. This is great for budget-conscious customers as they can plan their electricity usage according to their budget.
In certain states (Texas and New York, for instance), legislature has permitted third-party energy suppliers to enter the market and offer customers a fixed price. These third-party suppliers make a deal with power-generating companies in advance to buy electricity at a fixed rate so that their costs will not change and as a result, the consumers will not have to worry about changing prices. Almost all suppliers offer fixed tariffs whose duration may range from 12 to 36 months.
If the overall pricing is increasing in your state and your company announces a price hike, you are in an advantageous position because the price increase will not affect you and your budget will not be disturbed. However, if wholesale pricing is declining, variable plan holders will get to enjoy that benefit, but your tariff will remain the same.
On the other hand, you may settle for a variable pricing mechanism as well. Variable pricing will make your energy bill fluctuate because of the weather and other variables affecting demand or supply. These prices can sometimes be challenging for you to anticipate in advance and budget accordingly.
Variable tariff plans do not come with an expiry period, so customers can remain with them for as long as they wish. They will also not be charged any exit fee if they want to switch over to another plan.
Some power suppliers offer yet another tariff plan that offers a capped rate, which is actually a compromise between the fixed and variable rate. In this case, customers have to pay their energy bills on a variable rate basis, but the rate will be capped at a certain level, i.e., it will not increase beyond this level.
With capped prices, customers can benefit if the price decreases but do not need to worry too much if prices are increasing because they know they will not be charged above the capped rate.