When I first bought my house I would turn down the thermostat every night. At least I would try to turn it down every night, but some nights I'd simply forget or fall asleep on the couch or otherwise fail to do it. So eventually I went to the store and bought a programmable thermostat to replaced my old manual dial thermostat.
Installing the programmable thermostat was fairly easy and didn't require anything other than a screwdriver in my case. I'd recommend doing it yourself for anyone with a bit of handyman ability.
To me the beauty of a programmable thermostat is that it does all the work for you and it never forgets. So with the programmable thermostat I can be sure that I'll never forget to turn down the heat.
It definitely makes a lot of sense to control your temperature. The Department of Energy estimates you can save 10% off your annual heating & cooling bills just by turning the thermostat back 10-15 degrees for 8 hours. They also say you can save as much as 1% off your bills by cutting your temperature back 1 degree over 8 hours. The average home spends $1900 a year on energy costs. So by turning down your heat / cooling on average we would save $190 a year.
I don't have air conditioning and I live in a fairly temperate climate so my bills are not very high. I figure that I pay something around $800-900 a year to heat my house. At 10% savings for me I figure turning down the temp is saving us $80-90 a year. So its well worth it to turn down our heat.
You can buy a programmable thermostat for $40-$100 depending on what kind of features you get. So for both the potential energy savings and the convenience factor of having it automatically set, a programmable thermostat is well worth the cost.
Sources of information:
- DOE page on Thermostats
- Energy Star: A Guide to Energy-Efficient Heating and Cooling
Citizen information center guide to Automatic and Programmable thermostats[edit: page not found]
Alternate version to above article is now found at Fixr site.
- Programmable Thermostats - A three month review from GetRichSlowly
- [edit: added Sept 3rd] How to Install a Programmable Thermostat from Frugaldad