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Hacks for Efficient Thermostat Use During the Cold Months

Many homeowners are regularly looking for ways to maintain interior temperature without breaking the bank, and how you go about this will differ depending on the season. For the upcoming colder parts of the year, much of your attention will be not only on your furnace (or heat pump), but also on the way you utilize your thermostat to control these sources of heat.

At My Buddy the Plumber, we're happy to provide a wide range of thermostat-related services, including the installation of smart thermostats for those looking to upgrade to this modern option. Why are thermostat settings important during the fall and winter, which settings should be your standard, and what are some other thermostat hacks to stay comfortable all winter long without spending too much? Here's a rundown.

efficient thermostat cold months

Standard Thermostat Settings

The first area many of our clients ask about here is also one of the simplest: What should general temperature settings be for your thermostat during the winter? While the precise answers here will depend in large part on those who live in your home and their optimal desired temperatures, here are some strong guidelines we recommend:

  • Settings while at home (during the day): During periods of the day when someone is home, the optimal target temperature is typically going to be somewhere in the range of 68-70 degrees Fahrenheit. If necessary, you can adjust this up or down a few degrees depending on your specific likes and needs.
  • Settings while sleeping (at night): Research has consistently shown that most people require slightly cooler temperatures to sleep optimally, usually between 60 and 68 degrees Fahrenheit. The precise setting will vary from one person to the next, but this should be a good starting point for standard use.
  • Settings while away: When no one is home, on the other hand, your desired temperature will likely be more in the range of 55-60 degrees. This can vary depending on whether you have pets or children who need to get into a warm home, but this is a good starting point. Temperatures in this range will limit the strain on your HVAC system during periods where no heat is actually necessary, but will also not allow the temperature to drop so low that freezing water within your appliances becomes a concern.

Role of Appliances

While the way you control the thermostat is obviously a big factor for your HVAC system's efficiency, just as vital is the efficiency of the actual fixtures performing the commands you're inputting. If your furnace is 15 years old and clearly not operating at the same level as a brand-new model, for instance, this will be a drain on your system even when you're not requiring it to work.

This same theme applies to numerous other appliances and fixtures in your home, from appliances that use heat to perform their function (think: washing machine) to fixtures like carpets and blinds that actually raise the temperature within your home without any form of heating at all. The more efficient these devices are, the less strain they will put on your HVAC system during colder months--and this is yet another area where a smart thermostat can provide noticeable benefits!

Programmable or Smart Thermostat

If your home is still working with an outdated manual thermostat that forces you to personally adjust it whenever you go or return home, it's time for an upgrade. Fortunately, the easiest way to accomplish this is with a programmable thermostat that can automatically adjust your house temperature on your behalf.

The most popular of these options, at least today, is the smart thermostat. These devices operate on the same basic principles as regular programmable models, but they also include a variety of other features that can be controlled remotely with your phone or tablet--as well as provide information about energy usage you never had access to before.

It is worth noting that many new home heating systems are now being built with smart thermostats as a standard feature. This is a great option for those who plan to stay in their homes for many years, but it's also one that requires careful consideration on your part. For example, if you have a home warranty, getting new smart thermostat devices installed as soon as possible will help ensure you can get them covered by the warranty. Or, if you plan to sell your home within the next five years or so, you'll want to make sure your thermostat is as conventional as possible--even if this means you need to pay for professional installation of a new programmable device.

Other Efficiency Hacks

In addition to everything we've gone over above, here are a few extra tips on how to get the best possible efficiency:

  • Use curtains intelligently: Curtains are a great way to keep air from leaking through windows and doors and in turn reducing the amount of energy your furnace needs to use. Try to keep them wide open during the day, when sunlight is brightest, but close them at night or when evening arrives if you want a little more warmth.
  • Seal gaps: Even if you're taking advantage of smart thermostats and other energy efficient measures, there's no doubt gaps will still exist where air can leak out. Seal these as best you can with weather stripping, caulk or other materials as needed.
  • Insulation themes: If you're looking to save more money on heating, the best place you can start is with insulation. This will help keep heat in closer to where it's needed and reduce the amount of power required for your furnace.

For more on how to utilize the thermostat and related themes for optimal comfort during the colder months of the year, or to learn about any of our plumbing or HVAC services, speak to the staff at My Buddy the Plumber today.

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