I have an 1892 house with a forced-hot-air heating system. I replaced the heater thermostat a few years ago, which reduced my natural gas bill by several hundred dollars per year.
The new programmable thermostat can be set for four different temperatures at different times during the day, with a different set of four times and temperatures for the weekend. One hour before we usually go to bed, the thermostat is set to automatically go to 60 degrees, which saves a lot of energy at night. Then the temperature goes back up before I get up in the morning, which gives me a nice burst of heat in the bathroom when I shower and shave.
The new thermostat has a great feature that makes the furnace run for at least five minutes after it has started to heat. In the past, it seemed like cold air came out of the ducts initially after the furnace started running, and then the fan would stop shortly after hot air started coming out of the ducts. Now, the smart new thermostat makes sure that most of the heat gets into the house, instead of being left in the furnace and ducts in the basement. That’s something that the old mechanical thermostat was not able to do.
I installed the new thermostat in a different location in my front hall, a few feet away from the old thermostat. The old thermostat was on the uninsulated wall that has the stairway to the unheated basement on the other side. The thermostat’s temperature was somewhere between the temperatures of the house air and the basement. The new thermostat is on the wall of the hall closet, where it can accurately measure the house air’s temperature. In the past, the house was warm at some times and cold at other times, and now the temperature is much more consistent. There’s an engineering and quality principle that says: “If you can’t measure it, you can’t control it”, and that’s true in my house.
The $25 cost of the programmable thermostat was paid by a utility rebate. The actual cost was for some new wire and the few hours that it took me to run the wire through the wall from the new location to the furnace.
I have done a lot of other things to make my 120-year-old house more comfortable and energy efficient. I added insulation, replaced windows, and made many other improvements. Installing the programmable thermostat was far and away the most beneficial improvement, and the cost was tiny.
A smart thermostat is a smart investment. If your home’s thermostat is old, you can easily get more comfort and savings like I did.
Note from the editor: Medford residents that heat with Natural Gas can purchase quality 7-day programmable thermostats through the MassSave program online at EFI. The price as of today after rebate with free shipping is $14.95. You can alternatively get a $100 rebate on a Nest Learning Thermostat as well. To take advantage of either option and get your discounted thermostats before the heating season follow the instructions at the end of Jonathan Hunt’s Patch post Save Energy and Money with a Programmable Thermostat. You can find the rebated Nest thermostats listed under “Wi-Fi Thermostats” once you get to the MA National Grid (gas) discount page.