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Programmable ThermostatsWhile we want our homes to be warm and comfortable it’s surprising how many of us overlook the question of energy efficiency. But doing so costs us money. And as the prices of gas, electricity and heating oils rise, it’s more important than ever to look at simple but effective ways to trim expenses.

Making our homes energy efficient is a necessity. Let’s assume we already have attic space with premium insulation and good windows to prevent heat escaping. How else can we make heating our homes more cost effective? One very simple step that anyone can take is to install a programmable thermostat. Programmable thermostats are low cost, but they provide the means to save a considerable amount of money when it comes to reducing energy bills.

The latest programmable thermostats make their traditional counterparts look positively prehistoric. Who wants to have to set temperatures manually these days? Programmable thermostats allow you to set a custom-made heating agenda for your home. You can stipulate how warm you want your house to be at different times throughout the day. Once you’ve done so you simply sit back and let the programmable thermostat work it out. Most people opt to have the heat at a slightly lower level overnight, say around 17 or 18 degrees. Having the heat on a lower setting overnight is an effective way to save money while you sleep. Although natural temperatures drop during the dark hours there is no need to burn energy to keep warm. The cooler temperatures are compensated for by warm bed clovers and, for some, having someone to cuddle up to! With a programmable thermostat the heating temperature can be set to automatically go up a few notches in the mornings, making it easier for even the most reluctant of us to get out of bed in the winter! Waking to a warm home makes it easier to face the day. Yes, even Mondays!

Research carried out by Energystar.gov revealed that using a programmable thermostat can cut up to $180 from a householder’s heating bill every year. That’s a significant amount of money and such savings are easily achieved once a programmable thermostat has been fitted.

So, how complicated is installation? It’s not complicated at all. The fitting of a programmable thermostat is a very straightforward procedure. In fact it’s so simple many people opt to carry out the task themselves. Programmable thermostats come complete with helpful installation instructions. If you are fitting your own programmable thermostat the first thing to remember is that the power needs to be switched off from the mains, that means the power to the furnace should be set to off on the breaker panel or fuse box. When removing an existing single setting manual thermostat be sure to keep all the wires accessible. Take the base plate of the new programmable thermostat and run the wires through it prior to attaching it to the wall. The installation instructions will feature a guide about which color wires connect where on the new programmable thermostat. Oh, and don’t forget to fit back-up batteries. That way, even in the event of power failure, your individual heating settings won’t be lost. Once the batteries are fitted and the wires are correctly connected the front plate of the programmable thermostat can be secured to the wall and you’re ready to tailor your home’s heating schedule to suit your needs and your budget.

So how do programmable thermostats work?

Most programmable thermostats work on a cyclic basis. The user can choose appropriate settings for the working week, and separate settings for the weekends. On a daily basis a programmable thermostat allows up to four different temperature settings to be scheduled. Most commonly people like to tie these in with key points of the day. For example most of us like it to be nice and warm when we get up in the morning, but when we’re at work and the house is empty it would be a waste of money to have the heating on. But, we do want to come home to a comfortable warm house when our working day is done, don’t we. With a programmable thermostat the user can make this a reality without having to pay the cost of leaving a heating system running unnecessarily.

What is the best type of programmable thermostat to buy?

While the automatic programming features are the main appeal of programmable thermostats it’s wise to purchase one that includes a manual override and a hold temperature facility. A thermostat with these features will allow you to manually adapt your pre-set program if ever you need to. This is particularly useful if you need to put extra heat on or turn the heat down due to unexpected temperature changes. It’s useful too if your timetable changes and you are going to be home when the automatic schedule was set to be off. A simple click of a button and the programmable thermostat will revert to the agenda you set it.

Is a programmable thermostat compatible with any heating system?

Yes, the latest programmable thermostats are compatible with the majority of heating and air conditioning systems, provided that the existing thermostat has a 2, 3, 4 or 5 wire connection. One of the few exceptions is electric baseboard heating. This form of heating uses very high voltages that render programmable thermostats incompatible. In most cases though, a programmable thermostat is ideal, being inexpensive, easy to install and simple to use. More importantly using one will quickly begin saving users money while keeping their homes luxuriously warm and welcoming.

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