How to Save Money-- Thermostat Edition

>> Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Hey, what's your thermostat set at?

I taught a class last year on being frugal. And everyone seemed to love all my ideas.


Except for the one about cranking back your thermostat to save money.

Let me tell you, suggesting to a bunch of people in Las Vegas that they put their A/C at 80 degrees and buy a fan did NOT go over well.

Nor did suggesting they keep their thermostats at 68 in the winter. IN VEGAS! It's not even cold.

Oh they were mighty unhappy with me.


I am telling you, if you can adjust your thermostat 2 degrees (warmer in the summer and colder in the winter) you will literally see a cost difference in your energy bill.

I know it's hot. I KNOW.

Other ways to help are to install ceiling fans. You can buy ceiling fans brand new for under $30 and used on Craigslist for even less.

Make sure your thermostat is not near TVs or other electronics or heat-causing devices. That way the temperature readings are accurate.

Get a programmable thermostat if you don't already have one. Then you can have settings for when the house is empty, when it's night, when it's the weekend, etc. We had this in our house in Vegas, and I loved it.

Have a strict "NO TOUCHING THE THERMOSTAT" rule. Children (even my small ones) can think it's THEIR job to decide if it's too hot or too cold. It's not. So can spouses. That is between you and your partner... I'm not going there.

In summer months, be as undressed as humanly possible. Employ cooling techniques like ice water.

In winter months, add a layer. Or two.

Don't hate me. If you're just too hot, I understand, but if you try it, you'll be surprised at what temperature you can ACTUALLY live with.

I promise! Try it! DO IT! It will save you MONEY!

*photo from*


Tennille August 3, 2010 at 8:06 AM  

During the summer, ours is set at 77 during the day and 78 at night. I set it at 68 during the winter. My husband is not a fan but he doesn't complain as much as he used to, so I think he's getting used to it. It helps to have a fan blowing directly on him at night.

Saimi August 3, 2010 at 9:21 AM  

Ours is set for 75 sometimes I'll set it higher if I'm home all day..It gets too cold for me. As for the husband who works in the heat, likes it cold. Either I'll dress warmer when in the house or go outside every now and then to thaw out.

We can usually count on a breezy night so we open windows and shut down the air.

As for the winter, we have a electric fireplace that really puts out the heat and gives a nice atmosphere. We use that mostly. At night we still open windows, just a little and snuggle in.

Laura August 3, 2010 at 2:47 PM  

Oh, please. I live in Dallas where it has been 102-105 every day this week. Ours is set at 79-80 when we're home and 85 when we're not - until this week when we realized that we could turn it OFF while we're gone all day and it still only gets up to 83 by the time we get home. And you know what? It was FINE. I turned on a desk fan when I started working in the kitchen and it started feeling warm.

If we can get used to it, you can get used to it. It's all in getting acclimated. Sweating it a little in April/May makes it sooo much better in July/August.

McEuens August 4, 2010 at 7:26 AM  

We live in an old, drafty house with insufficient insulation and old windows. So my air conditioning rule is that when it gets so hot inside that I want to die and am starting to be mean to my children because I'm so uncomfortable, I turn on the a/c. This is usually around a very humid 80 degrees or so (and hotter upstairs). Some days we don't turn it on at all. For the really awful days my best trick is to turn the a/c on high for about half an hour right before we go to bed. Then we open the windows (assuming, of course, it's cool enough outside to make sense to do so), and the house usually stays reasonably cool all night long.

Angie August 4, 2010 at 3:56 PM  

We're at 80 in Vegas in the summer and 66-68 in the winter. We have a ceiling fan in every feasible room. Our a/c guy once told me that a fan gives you a perceived 4 degree differential--you will feel 4 degrees cooler than you actually are because of the air wafting over you. That and he said you can't expect your a/c to make more than a 30 degree difference. It just won't do it, but will bleed you dry trying and will wear out the unit faster (thus bleeding you dry even faster). That means that we're okay until the weather exceeds 110, which it has far too often this summer.

One thing to be careful with actually shutting off heat or a/c, depending upon the differential you could actually cost yourself more money getting to your desired temp quickly than you would just setting it low/high when you're not home--that's what the programmable thermostat is for, it gets you to your desired temp slowly without allowing things to get too cold/hot as to do damage. And if you're in a particularly humid climate, you will actually accelerate the formation of mold by turning off your a/c when not in the house for very long. Aside from the gross factor, that's bad for allergies, respiratory ailments and that gross deadly mold stuff that you can't get rid of and actually makes you stupid.

Lynn August 7, 2010 at 9:45 AM  

I love my A/C! And sleeping with the windows open does not help people with allergies. However, I do like your "no touching the thermostat" rule.

One time we had to call for service because our thermostat shut down completely. Turned out our grandson had turned off the fan at the furnace and it controlled the thermostat too. (It just looks like a light switch at the side of the furnace.) A $2.00 lock on the furnace/laundry room took care of that quickly!

Giggles August 7, 2010 at 11:12 AM  

I keep it at 82/84 during the day in the Summer (southern Arizona, think 100+ for three months). We turn it down to 76 at dinner time so the house is cool enough to sleep but turn it off when we go to bed.

In the winter we only turn it on to maybe 70 during the evening. It is off the rest of the day and when we are sleeping. Occasionally my husband gets up before me and turns it on so I can get out of bed to a warm room. Space heaters are also great to heat just the room you are in.

Here from MMB.

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