The idea behind programming a thermostat for the winter months is simple: to save energy by allowing the indoor temperature to drop below the set point while you are asleep or when you are out.
Basically, you have to define three temperatures:
- a temperature for when you return to your home, or when you get up in the morning (what we may call the “Standard Temperature");
- a temperature for when you are out of home (the “Nobody Home Temperature”);
- and a temperature for when you are sleeping (“People Sleeping Temperature”).
The Standard Temperature
The EPA recommends 68º F (20º Celsius) as the ideal winter standard temperature. People usually feel comfortable at 68º F/20ºC or even at a slightly lower temperature (wearing warm clothing can help).
Be aware. Set up your programmable thermostat correctly. Otherwise you may increase your energy consumption.
Obviously, you can consider a higher temperature, but your heating bills will increase by about 1% or more for each degree increase.
The Nobody Home Temperature
For the periods when you and your family are away for some hours, adjust the temperature down by 5-15ºF. If your heating system reacts quickly to changes in temperatures, consider a temperature close to the lower limit.
The People Sleeping Temperature
Turning down the temperature for some hours while everyone is asleep can save a lot of energy, and many people use the “Nobody home temperature” for this end.
Defining your schedules
Once defined the temperatures you wish to use in your thermostat, you need to consider your daily schedules: the period when everyone is asleep, the periods when you are away from the house...
You may come up with something like the following:
The Readjusting period
Your thermostat can be programmed to adjust the temperature shortly before you return home, and before you get up in the morning (the blue areas in the table above).
If you get up at seven in the morning, the thermostat can be programmed to increase the temperature thirty minutes or so earlier, depending on the insulation levels of your house and climate, and on how quickly your heating system reacts.
Overriding your programmable thermostat settings
Modern programmable thermostats allow you to manually override a setting without affecting the rest of the daily or weekly program.
Similarly the thermostat can be set to begin its cool down before you leave home or go to bed and return. Defining these periods may require a little trial and error on your part.
Entering the data
Once defined your daily schedules and the temperatures you want for your indoor living space, check your thermostat manual or the company's website for instructions regarding how to enter the data.
It depends in part on the type of your thermostat: 7-days, 5-2, 5-1-1 models...
When programming it for the first time you will need to enter the time and date on the system. That’s the very first step…