Who wins the Family Battle with Home Temperature Settings?

Real Estate Agent with Rocktown Realty (Harrisonburg)

Ever been in one of those thermostat control debates, where disagreement exists within a household about whether it would be a good idea to scale back the AC when you leave for a bit? Where Person A makes the logical-sounding argument that by turning up the thermostat to a warmer temperature, you’ll be saving money and energy by not cooling the house as much? And where Person B counters with an equally logical-sounding argument that maybe all that work the AC unit will have to do to re-cool the house will actually end up costing more money and energy, as opposed to just maintaining throughout the day?

If so, good news in the form of a definitive answer from Jay Monger, manager of the heating and cooling division for Harrisonburg’s Excel Heating & Cooling: Person A is right.

In addition to cutting down on your environmental footprint and utility bill, allowing your house to warm up by a reasonable amount, like 7 to 8 degrees, will also keep you more comfortable, Monger says. The reason is that longer cycling of the AC unit will do a better job of dehumidifying the air, an often-overlooked piece of home comfort (AC cycling is addressed in more detail in this previous post).

And when it comes to energy use, it’s simply more efficient to allow the house to warm up during the day – assuming people are away at work/school, or simply can tolerate it being warmer – and re-cool it in the evening, as outside air also cools. A great way to make this a daily habit, Monger says, is installing a programmable thermostat that will automatically adjust to preset levels at different times during the day.

Excel Heating and Cooling uses programmable thermostats on every new installation, and Monger recommends that anyone with an otherwise adequate climate control system upgrade to one. Bet on a total installation cost of somewhere around $200, an amount that’s generally easily recouped in future cost savings. (Note: all these points are even more relevant in the winter, when even bigger energy/cost savings are to be realized by allowing your house to get a little chilly when no one’s in it.)

The settings on a programmable thermostat are, obviously, programmable, although they often come with pre-set recommendations. Per recent EPA recommendations, an efficient summer setting for a programmable thermostat is 78 degrees when people are at home and awake, 85 degrees when no one is home, and 82 degrees when people are asleep.

Noting that these figures are a good bit higher than most people will choose to set their thermostats, Monger says that everyone should make their own decision in weighing in-home comfort against energy bill and consumption savings. Regardless of the specifics of that choice, allowing the temperature to fluctuate will save money and energy.

Most programmable thermostats will also have an “away” feature that dials heating and cooling back when the home is empty for a more extended period. Units vary considerably in price, and the more expensive ones generally offer more features like remote access through a phone or computer, Monger says. Higher-end thermostats also, he says, tend to have easier user interfaces.

A final note: given the fast-increasing sophistication of programmable thermostats, Monger recommends leaving installation to a professional.

“The equipment has gotten too complicated [for most homeowners],” he says, adding that his company makes an awful lot of service calls to clean up after a DIY attempt has gone wrong.


The original post can be found at http://livehb.com/blog/who-wins-family-battle-home-temperature-settings

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