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The Home Inspector's Blog

Perfect Temperature to set thermostat & Cost-Efficient ways to Heat your Home

Is there a perfect temperature to set your thermostat? 
  
The right thermostat settings can do wonders for your energy costs. ConsumerEnergyCenter.org reports that you can save up to five percent in heating costs for every degree you lower your thermostat between 60 and 70 degrees. Many people find that setting the thermostat to 68 degrees in the winter provides a comfortable home environment and keeps heating costs under control. At the night, or during the day when everyone is away, the temperature can be set to 6-10 degrees cooler to provide more savings.

The key to making these temperature changes effortless is to install a programmable thermostat with which you can assign different temperatures to different times of day or even different days of the week. Some households have different schedules on Mondays as opposed to Thursdays, for examples. These household rhythms can be programmed into the thermostat. Your family might consider investing in a super-smart learning thermostat.

For example, if people in your household wake later on weekends, you probably won’t need to raise the temperature to 68 degrees until 9am. Then on weekdays, you might like your house to be comfortably warm by 6:30am, when the earliest riser stumbles into the kitchen seeking coffee. Programming your thermostat to raise or lower the temperature according to your family’s schedule can save a great deal of money—you’ll never have to never heat your home more than necessary. And you’ll save time, since your thermostat settings will rarely need revisiting.

You can try programming a thermostat to match your household's needs with Energy.gov's Programmable Thermostat Tool. The site notes that programming your thermostat can also help you avoid the temptation to crank up your temperature when you feel chilly. Rather than raising your home's temperature (and your heating bills), try bundling up in a warm sweater and sipping a hot drink. If someone in your household just can’t live without that extra warmth, use a space heater or two to make their most-used areas of the home extra-toasty.

During the summertime, the same principles apply, just in reverse. Keep your air conditioners or central air unit set at 75 degrees or above for cost-efficient cooling. Your family's habits may allow you to keep the temperature higher. Consult your family and see what everyone is comfortable with. Additionally, a box fan can allow you to raise your thermostat by making rooms feel cooler than they are, and they cost about one tenth as much to run as an air conditioner, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.



What Is the Most Cost-Efficient Way to Heat Your Home?
 
Winter weather can differ widely depending on your home’s location. Winters in Southern California are temperate, while the temperature in the Northeastern United States can dip below zero with alarming frequency this time of year. Temperatures in Texas, meanwhile, can range from mild to freezing within the same season. There is no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes the most cost-effective way to heat a home. Use these tips to find the most effective way to keep your home toasty this winter.

Know your climate: First, research the climate extremes in your area and take note. Insulation is the first place to start making changes to maximize your home’s efficiency, and to choose the right insulation for your home, you'll need to be armed with these numbers. There are plenty of energy-efficient HVAC systems and heaters on the market today, but if your house isn’t properly insulated, the best heater on the planet will be of little use.

Choose insulation wisely: Many eco-friendly insulation options are available for today’s homeowners, including expanding foams, non-fiberglass insulation batts, foam boards, radiant barriers and even denim. Each has its own pros, cons and price point, so do your research and talk to a few experts before you make a commitment. Be sure to check out insulation kits for doors and windows, as well. Insulation’s job is to stop the transmission of heat. An insulation product’s R-value indicates how effective it will be at keeping heat from escaping your home. For example, the humble t-shirt has the same R-value number as a single pane of glass—two. Insulation is available in R-values from four to over 30. Higher numbers can be obtained by layering batts with different R-values.

Consider alternative heating methods: 
Once your home is insulated, consider alternative heating methods if the price of a new HVAC system isn't feasible. Consider an efficient fireplace, such as a corn or wood pellet stove—just keep in mind that these require permits and come with strict installation guidelines. A less expensive option would be to install a solar heating module for daytime heating. At night, space heaters can be used to heat individual bedrooms. Be certain to select the proper size of heater for each room based on square footage.

By using space heaters in only in occupied rooms, you won’t be needlessly heating the entire house and lower your utility costs. Using electric blankets can also offset the cost of heating during the night.

Over time, these products can pay for themselves and their installation through energy savings. Start with a single item (new insulation, perhaps) and use the energy savings to purchase additional energy-saving products.