The Pros and Cons of programmable thermostats

By: Mike McCarthy Email
By: Mike McCarthy Email

KNOXVILLE (WVLT) – If you have an air conditioning, odds are you have turned it up within the last few days to beat the heat. Electronic thermostats have made it easy to keep a home’s climate under control, but believe it or not, you may not want to toss out an old manual one.

Shaun Coleman works for Aire Service of Knoxville, and as the summer sun heats up, so does his work load.

"It's pretty intense right now," he admits.

According to experts like Coleman, you don’t have to sweat a high summer energy bill just because the mercury has shot up.

"The best way to save money on an AC unit is not to run it,” he said, “or as close as you can get to that."

A new thermostat could help. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, a programmable thermostat could end up saving users about $180 a year.

"It's pretty much a glorified time clock, you tell it what temperature to maintain at certain times,” Coleman said. “When you leave for the day, set it up to a higher temperature."

The EPA says if you set it to 78 degrees while you are away, you should be able to start saving. They say it should be bumped up at least seven degrees during the day and four degrees warmer at night.

Replacing a thermostat isn’t as difficult as you might imagine.

"Anyone that has basic knowledge or can read directions can pretty much install it themselves,” said Kim Day from Home Depot. “It's something normal homeowners can do themselves."

Different models give different day schedules, but some cost up to $80 more than their manual competition.

“It's well worth it if you're going to be gone during the day," said Coleman

However if you aren’t away from your home during the day, it might not work.

“Somebody is always here and they are going to want to be comfortable when they're home," said Michelle Williams who uses a manual thermostat.

You don't have to go high-tech to be energy efficient. Another way to cut back on your power bill is to clean and change your filter at least as often as the manufacturer suggests. You should also make sure your AC coils are clean. Not doing either can cause a unit to malfunction.

If you still are not sure if a programmable thermostat's is right for you, click on the link below. It will take you to a guideline on what model to choose and how to properly and safely install it.


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