Thursday, July 17, 2008

The Thermostat Wars

In our quest to be debt free, we are trying to cut back anyway possible. Sometimes even the smallest thing that only saves pennies at a time can really add up in the long run. According to the Department of Energy: “Households that lower their thermostats by 1 degree Fahrenheit (1° F) during the current winter heating season may realize average savings of $15 to $40 or more” and this is based off of data from 1997; I bet those figures are higher, now. I also think it is safe to assume that this can be applied to cooling in the summer season.

Some months ago we replaced our faulty manual thermostat with a programmable digital one. It is designed so that we program temperatures into it and it will provide either heat or air depending on which way the actual temperature moves. The thermostat will turn on the system when the actual temperature is 2 degrees above or below the setting; so if the setting is 78 degrees, when the actual temperature reaches 80 the AC turns on and when the actual temperature drops to 76 the heat turns on. Now the big question came, to what temperature do we set it at? This is a huge debate in our home; if I am comfortable, DJ is roasting; if DJ is comfortable, I am freezing!

What is a comfortable temperature, anyway? Have you ever noticed that in the winter you are comfortable at higher temperatures, but in the summer those same temperatures feel too hot? We initially set the thermostat to 78 in the day and 76 at night. This was in the spring and I quickly discovered that 78 left me feeling cold. After talking with DJ and discussing the potential cost savings, we adjusted the thermostat to 80 by day and 78 at night.

Spring quickly became summer and our comfort zone altered accordingly. DJ found his sleep disrupted and changed the thermostat to 75 at night, leaving the day temperature at 80. This made me curious and after a quick Google query I found a page that stated that at 78 degrees sleep is disrupted. This means that DJ has a viable argument and so this has remained our current temperature settings for some time.

Of course, now summer is here in full force and I am finding the once comfortable 80 degrees is too hot, though still freeze my butt off at night. The thermostat wars are never ending.


SF said...

We're in TX and I don't have to explain the heat!!

I am livid at my $400 electric bill! I live in a one-story apartment!

I switched companies yesterday. Just exercising my right to choose.

Amy said...

I am impressed with your option to switch electric companies! That is not an option here.

Dana said...

The Thermostat Wars - what a perfect title. No one ever agrees on the temp, do they? We need to do an incredible amount of work to our house. We use plastic on the windows in the winter. I can handle the temp being cooler in the winter. I always say that if you are cold put a sweater on!

We pay $243 every month (we are on equal billing) for gas and electric.

Amy.. do you have those new light bulbs? We used to keep our computer on 24/7 - not anymore!

Amy said...

The high efficiency light bulbs - yep, we use them. I could write a whole post on that topic. Looks like I have another future post in the hopper.

Our power bill is highest in the summer. We only run our heat about 2 weeks the whole year; and that is not 2 weeks continuous, but rather a day or 2 here and there. I have learned (due to previous locations I have lived) that it costs more to heat than to cool.

Kristen said...

Tom & I joked last month when we had a rental car with dual climate control that there would be a storm front developing somewhere in the middle console.