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Cost Savers

Off To a Vacation Let Your AC Relax, Too

Learning how to set your programmable thermostat on vacation is an excellent money-saving practice. Learn the best practices to help your AC and wallet.

Most people remember to use their thermostat's scheduling feature before they go on vacation, since it allows users to control their home’s temperature while they're away. However, you could be missing out on daily savings if you don’t program your thermostat on a regular basis.

Whether they're "smart" or not, programmable thermostats are an excellent money-saving tool. They help your AC unit run more efficiently, thereby reducing your heating and cooling bills.

But are you getting the most out of your programmable thermostat?

While You're Away or Sleeping Set Your Thermostat to High


Learning to program your thermostat is simple — it just requires a little time and strategic thinking. And you should know that time spent up front learning how to master your thermostat will pay off in the long run. Simply set the thermostat to a higher temperature when you're sleeping or away, and then to a more comfortable temperature when you're awake and at home. Not only does this practice save you money, but it also helps extend the life of your central air conditioner.

In the summer months, you can let your house warm up while you’re away and program the AC to click on just before you get home. There’s a common misconception that when you turn off or set back your thermostat when it’s hot outside, your air conditioner has to work harder than usual to return your home to a comfortable temperature, leading to little or no savings. But the truth is that the hotter the inside of your house is, the slower heat flows into it, resulting in energy savings.

Related: Is there a perfect temperature to set your thermostat

Here is an example of what a typical day could look like as programmed on your thermostat.

How to Set Your Thermostat on Vacation


7 a.m: Rise and shine! Set your AC unit to click on at 78 degrees — the optimal energy-efficient summer setting — 20 minutes before you wake up so you'll be comfortable while getting ready for the day.

8:30 a.m: You're ready to leave the house. Schedule the AC to click off and hold a steady 82 degrees. The house will be empty for the better part of the day, and you don't want the AC to run unless it absolutely has to.

3:30 a.m: The kids just got out of school. Program the AC unit to turn on in time for them to get home.

10 p.m. Time for bed! Set the thermostat to gradually return to 82 degrees so you can save while you sleep.

Weekends: Make sure to program your thermostat differently on the weekends. Since you’re likely home more often then, make sure to put your comfort first when setting the thermostat.

Vacations: If you're going to be away from your home for a prolonged period of time, you might be tempted to shut off your AC altogether. However, Energy.gov recommends keeping the house at around 85 degrees to give your AC unit a break without potentially incurring damage to your belongings from heat and humidity.

Programming your thermostat to raise and lower the temperature of your home depending on the time of day is an easy, quick step that can save you a significant amount of money on your electric bill. Take the time to program your thermostat today, and then sit back and reap the rewards.

Next > How Handy Are You? A Quiz For All Homeowners

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