Heating and cooling account for nearly half of the home’s energy use each month. While homeowners can upgrade appliances to energy-efficient models, the HVAC typically has a long lifespan and is expensive to replace. For this reason, most homeowners won’t upgrade or update their HVAC until it’s warranted.
However, homeowners can make other changes in using their HVAC to ensure that heating and cooling their home isn’t burning the budget. Changing the temperature on the thermostat is one of the easiest and cost-efficient updates that can help decrease energy use, but what are the most energy-efficient thermostat settings?
The Most Energy-Efficient Thermostat Settings for Summer
For homeowners who live in areas that experience extremely hot summers, the air conditioning might be running 24/7. Each individual’s comfort is different, and some homeowners might nudge that thermostat down to a cool 72 degrees Fahrenheit.
Unfortunately, if the weather outside is hitting the high 90s or even soaring in the three-digit range, the air conditioning will be using a lot of energy to keep that home at that temperature. Those who like cool homes in the summer might not be prepared to learn that the Department of Energy recommends a higher temperature for energy-efficiency.
What is the most energy-efficient thermostat setting for summer?
Homeowners should nudge their thermostat up to 78 degrees Fahrenheit when they are home, and they might opt to set it a little bit higher when they aren’t at home. The Department of Energy explains: “The smaller the difference between the indoor and outdoor temperatures, the lower your overall cooling bill will be.”
To keep the home as cool as possible during hot summer days, keep the blinds or curtains closed to ensure that the sun doesn’t add more heat to the home. Homeowners also can use ceiling fans to help circulate the air.
The Most Energy-Efficient Thermostat Settings for Winter
Some homeowners live in areas with mild winters, and perhaps their heat isn’t used so aggressively. Those living in areas where the thermostat dips down to single digits or even below zero, though, need that furnace to ensure that the home stays comfortable.
Don’t set the thermostat to an aggressively warm temperature, though. There is no reason to crank the furnace up to 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Instead, opt for 68 degrees Fahrenheit while at home to keep the home comfortable.
If 68 degrees feels cool, grab some blankets or use a heavier comforter at night. Ceiling fans also could help circulate warm air. In summer, ceiling fans should rotate counterclockwise and should circulate in reverse during winter months.
The Mild Seasons: Fall and Spring
While summer and winter might bring more dramatic temperatures, many areas tend to be mild during fall and spring. The temperature could be so comfortable that homeowners decide to turn off their HVAC to save energy.
These seasons also are a great time to elect to have the HVAC system serviced. Homeowners should service units yearly to ensure that they are running efficiently. Have the air conditioning checked in spring before summer starts. Autumn is a great time to schedule for the furnace to be serviced.
Throughout the year, homeowners also should make sure that their air filter is changed. A dirty air filter could cause the system to run less efficiently. Filters are simple to change, and they are fairly inexpensive.
Make Sure Homeowners aren’t Heating and Cooling the Outdoors
Moms everywhere have yelled those infamous words: “we’re not cooling the outdoors!” The door might have been left open and the cool air (or hot air during winter) is escaping. While leaving a front or back door ajar can waste energy, there are also other ways air might be leaking into or out of the home.
Check around doors to feel for air leaks. Over time, insulation might wear down around doors. This can cause open areas to form that let the elements into the home.
Windows also can be an energy drain. Check around windows to feel for leaky areas. Again, insulation might need to be replaced. Homeowners also can use insulation film over windows to provide an additional level of protection.
Are there rooms in the home that get cool during winter and hot during summer? Or does snow melt quickly on the roof? There could be insulation issues, and poor insulation makes the HVAC work harder.
Another Thermostat to Check?
The thermostat on the hot water heater also could be adjusted. Some recommend that homeowners nudge down the thermostat to 120 degrees Fahrenheit. This is considered the most energy-efficient temperature and also reduces burns or scalding.
However, others maintain that dropping the temperature too low can increase the risk for bacteria and diseases like Legionnaires Disease. Homeowners should research the pros and cons of adjusting this thermostat.
Homeowners also could opt to insulate their hot water heater to ensure energy efficiency. In addition, hot water heaters need to be replaced more frequently than the HVAC (especially in areas with hard water). Homeowners could upgrade to an energy-efficient water heater.
Many homeowners won’t replace their HVAC until the system is at the end of its life. A new HVAC is an expensive investment. While heating and cooling accounts for nearly half of the home’s energy use, upgrading to an energy-efficient HVAC system isn’t an investment cost many will make without a good reason. When homeowners are concerned about their heating and cooling costs, adjusting the thermostat is an easy and free solution that can help reduce energy and lower the monthly bills.