Every day, you’re reminded to use your resources responsibly and efficiently. You know the importance of recycling, driving sustainable transportation, and keeping your air conditioner and heater efficient.

But if you’re like most American homeowners, you probably don’t fully understand one of the largest energy drains in your home: the thermostat. According to the US Department of Energy, residential thermostats consume 9% of the energy consumed in the country. And experts estimate that smart thermostat programming saves the average homeowner between 5 and 15% on their energy bill.

In this blog, we walk you through the basics of thermostat use so you save money and keep your home comfortable throughout the entire year.

General Application

In your effort to handle your thermostat more responsibility, start with daily best practices, such as those found below.

Learn How to Use Your Unit

You’ve probably been told to buy a programmable thermostat. But you likely still fall into the reported 30% of homeowners with a manual thermostat. Or, worse, you may fall into the 47% of homeowners whose thermostats are essentially in manual mode.

Your thermostat only works as efficiently as you tell it to. And while you save more money with a programmable thermostat, those savings disappear if you don’t know how to program it.

Take a look at your thermostat. Is it on “hold” mode? This setting is essentially the same as a manual thermostat, so you have to make every temperature change yourself.

Reach out to a trusted HVAC expert or read through your operator manual to learn how to take your unit out of “hold” mode to make it more efficient.

Take Advantage of the Weather

While thermostat settings themselves are important, even ideal modes don’t promise optimized performance. To enhance your heating and cooling system, use the weather to your advantage. Here’s how:

  • Close your curtains at night to conserve heat, and open them during the day to allow for natural heat when it’s cold.
  • Draw the curtains to block out direct sunlight when it’s warm out.
  • Open the windows to create natural airflow.

Implement Absentee Settings

As they try to control the climate of their homes, many homeowners waste energy while they sleep or leave home. Program your thermostat to account for night hours and your work day.

In the winter, set a lower temperature overnight and while you’re out of the house. In the summer, do the opposite. Even a few degrees’ difference saves you money.

Seasonal Use

In addition to the general guidelines above, you’ll want to make specific changes during the most extreme seasonal temperatures.


When the days get long and warm, experts recommend these thermostat temperatures:

  • 78℉ when at home and in need of cooler temperatures
  • 85 to 88℉ when out of the house
  • Between 78℉ and 85℉ when in the house and asleep

On average, you save 6 to 10% of your energy costs per degree over 75℉ when you set your thermostat for long periods of time.


In the winter months, try these settings:

  • 68℉ when at home and in need of warmer temperatures
  • 55℉ when out of the house
  • Between 55 and 65℉ when in the house and asleep

While you can adjust these preferences for your comfort, most homes stay comfortable at these temperatures.


If you have a specialized thermostat, your ideal preferences may differ slightly than the guidelines listed above. To ensure you make the best choices for your situation, reach out to an HVAC professional or your system’s manufacturer. You’ll also find helpful suggestions in your user manual.

Take advantage of these tips to reduce your energy bills, keep you and your family comfortable year round, and reduce your carbon footprint.

For more information about heating, cooling, and air quality, read our other blog posts.