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EPA Offers Tips on Proper Use of Programmable Thermostats

June 23, 2008
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WASHINGTON - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has launched an effort to help Americans save on their summer cooling bills with advice on how to properly program their thermostat. When used correctly, Energy Star-qualified programmable thermostats can save money on energy bills as well as help reduce greenhouse gas emissions. According to the EPA, if consumers manage their heating and cooling schedules accordingly, a programmable thermostat can save about $180 a year on home energy bills. HVAC contractors can pass along the following tips to customers to help them stay cool while keeping more cash in their pockets.

The average household spends $1,900 a year on energy bills, says the EPA, nearly half of which goes to heating and cooling. The agency recommends proper use guidelines for Energy Star-qualified programmable thermostats, as well as other energy saving tips for the summer.

EPA says consumers can program their thermostat for savings this summer by:

• Raising their home’s usual temperature setting by 7 degrees when away and 4 degrees when asleep.

• Resisting the urge to override temperature settings. Once the programmable thermostat is set, leave it alone. Overriding pre-programmed temperature settings is a common mistake made by homeowners, which results in higher energy bills and discomfort.

• Avoiding lowering the thermostat to extreme temperatures, as it won’t cool a home faster. It just makes the HVAC system work harder. When a programmable thermostat is used properly, the home is always at a comfortable temperature when people are at home.

• Using the “Vacation” and “Hold” features to manage temperatures while they’re away from home for an extended period.

• Making sure to change the batteries. If the programmable thermostat runs on batteries, don’t forget to change the batteries each year. Some units will indicate when batteries must be changed.

EPA is also providing consumers with tips and resources to help them get their energy use on the right track. By visiting www.energystar.gov/pts consumers will find:

• Tips for choosing the right programmable thermostat, having their thermostat properly installed, and properly setting and using the thermostat.

• A new video podcast that guides homeowners through choosing the programmable thermostat that is right for them and setting it for maximum energy savings. In addition to accessing the video podcast at the above Website, the video can also be viewed on YouTube by clicking here.

MORE WAYS TO SAVE

Additional ways that consumers can save this summer are:

• Schedule an annual, preseason maintenance checkup with a licensed HVAC contractor to ensure their cooling system is operating efficiently and safely - as well as to identify problems early.

• Be sure to clean or change the system’s air filter regularly according to the manufacturer’s instructions - generally once a month or as directed.

• Find and seal air leaks that cause drafts and make the cooling system work overtime.

• Adjust the thermostat and use their ceiling fan in the counterclockwise direction to create a wind-chill effect, making them “feel” cooler for additional energy and dollar savings. But note that ceiling fans cool people, not rooms. So be sure to turn the ceiling fan off when leaving the room.

BUSINESSES CAN SAVE TOO

Businesses can also benefit from the proper use of programmable thermostats and facility controls, particularly during the summer months. Learn more about programmable thermostats and other tips to save energy in the workplace this summer by visiting www.energystar.gov/bizcooling.

Publication date: 06/23/2008

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