How can I make my house more energy efficient – programmable thermostat

Thermostat, Home Energy

You’ve probably heard that using a programmable thermostat to simply set certain temperatures can reduce energy consumption for heating and cooling by as much as 10%. But did you know there are other ways a programmable thermostat can improve a home’s energy efficiency? 

Keep reading for little-known programmable thermostat tricks that can have a big impact on energy use. 

Away/Vacation Mode Settings

If you’re going to be away from home for more than a few days and there aren’t pets in the home, using the away or vacation mode setting can save a little extra energy while you’re gone. Essentially instead of letting your regular schedule run, you can set it at optimal energy-saving temperature all day because no one will be home.

Maximize Energy Efficiency Day-by-Day With 7-Day Programming

Many thermostats allow you to do more than set different temperatures for different times during the day. Check to see if your thermostat has daily programming that allows you to tweak the temperature for each day. This will allow you to minimize heating and cooling as much as possible. 

Doing the day-by-day schedule is a step beyond the standard daily and weekday/weekend programming. It’s the setting that gives you the most control, customization, and energy savings. 

Make Adjustments for Each Season

As the season changes take a look at your thermostat settings. When temperatures outside and hours of sunlight change your heating and cooling needs will too. What worked a few months ago may no longer be the most energy-efficient setting. 

Summer is the perfect example of why you want to make seasonal adjustments. Not only is it much hotter outside, but school isn’t in session. Anyone with school-aged or college-aged kids will have to account for extra people being home all day. 


There’s a good rule of thumb to follow in the winter and summer to reduce energy use by around 10%. In the winter, lower the temperature by 10 degrees when you’re asleep or away. In the summer, increase the temperature by 10 degrees when you’re asleep or away.

Choose the Optimal Location for Your Programmable Thermostat

If the thermostat isn’t reading the room temperature right it can waste a lot of energy. Some people use every programmable thermostat trick in the book, but it doesn’t seem to make much of a difference. 

It could be because the thermostat is in direct sunlight for a good part of the day. Or it’s right beside the living room TV just above the entertainment console. 

These are not ideal locations for a programmable thermostat because the temperature readings won’t be 100% accurate. It needs to be located on an interior wall away from doors, windows and direct sunlight. There also shouldn’t be any furniture directly below or around the thermostat because it obstructs airflow.

Upping the Technology Factor With a Smart Thermostat

The primary benefit of all smart home devices is that they can be controlled remotely. If your household’s schedule is always changing a smart thermostat could be the most practical option.

Some smart thermostats, like Nest, eliminate all of the work. It’s truly a smart thermostat that can detect motion and learn your schedule as well as preferences over the course of a few days. It does the programming for you.

Another benefit of a smart thermostat is that it could be included in a larger home ecosystem that brings multiple systems together to save energy. For instance, if they are on a compatible hub, a smart thermostat and smart bulbs can work in tandem to come on together right before you arrive home from work. A schedule can be set to trigger certain lights to come on when the HVAC system fires up 30 minutes before arrival.

One last tip – get a programmable thermostat that you will actually use whether it’s smart or not. If it’s too complicated or cumbersome then you won’t get the benefit of a programmable thermostat. A programmable thermostat that isn’t used is essentially a standard thermostat that’s just controlled manually.
Get more tips on how to use thermostats, furnaces, and other equipment to improve your home’s energy efficiency on the Verde Energy blog