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Turning down your thermostat in the winter

8 January 2009 4,259 views 3 Comments
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Turning down your thermostat by just a few degrees to 68 F in the winter can save 5-10% on your overall heating bill.

If you think about it, this makes sense. By turning down the thermostat to a more reasonable temperature in the colder months, there is less of a difference between the air outside and the air inside. Keep in mind that insulation only slows the transfer of air, which moves from warm temperatures to colder ones. The closer the temperatures, the less air will move.

Additionally, there is less of a demand on your furnace. So besides the thermodynamic aspect explained above, the furnace will be “on” for less time. And it will not turn on as often to maintain the temperature. If your furnace runs less, it will not use as much fuel. This translates directly to lower energy bills.

Your actual savings may vary depending on various factors including fuel cost and your home’s energy usage. For example, if you have poor insulation you can still expect to save money on your energy bills than if you kept the temperature higher, but you can not expect the same savings as someone who has better insulation. In other words, you will save money on your heating bill than if you kept the temperature higher.

You can always mitigate how to combat a colder room instead of turning up the heat on your thermostat, if the temptation strikes:

  • use blankets
  • dress warmer (sweaters, layers)
  • use space heaters

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3 Comments »

  • john millett said:

    ok i see alot of articles on turning your heat down in the winter months thats a no brainer.What you don’t say is that if you turn it down more than 5 degrees you use more energy getting it back up to your high temp.I was just talking with someone who turns their heat down to 60 at night and 68 in the day.It takes hrs to get the house back up.You can spew all the simple facts you want but if you want to help make sure you included the real facts ,not just the simple answers that aren’t correct.

  • Marklin Financial Blog » Blog Archive » Try a lean January said:

    [...] the thermostat down to 68 degrees and save up to 10% on your heating [...]

  • David Andersen (author) said:

    Hi John,

    The furnace does run to run the temperature back up to the required 68 degrees, but typically this time is less than the “maintenance” temperature time, or the time to keep the house at 68 all the time. If it takes more energy to run back up from 60 to 68, than perhaps try reducing it to 62 or something similar. The fact is, this type of practice is proven over and over again. This is the whole basis and idea behind setback or programmable thermostats. If they didn’t work, they a) wouldn’t be energy star rated, b) wouldn’t be recommended by energy contractors and energy auditors, and c) they wouldn’t be featured and promoted by energy companies for energy star and savings rebates programs.

    Unfortunately, its probably the application of the technology rather than the practice itself.

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