The Facts about Programmable Thermostats

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Did you know that your utility company may offer you a rebate for installing a programmable thermostat? It’s true. Programmable thermostats can save you money and keep your house more comfortable at the same time. The advantage of a thermostat like this is for people on regular schedules. If you go to sleep around the same time every night and work the same schedule every week then you may want to consider having a programmable thermostat installed. The thermostat will automatically adjust the temperatures when no one is home or sleeping in order for the heating and cooling system to not run as much, saving you money. They will also adjust the temperature back to your comfort setting before you arrive home or wake up.

Programmable thermostats are not for everyone though. If you live in an area that is all electric and you have a heat pump system, you may not benefit from a programmable thermostat adjusting the temperatures for you. If you’re not sure if you have a heat pump just check your thermostat and see if there is an emergency heat switch (EMER). If so, you have a heat pump system. On heat pump systems that are all electric, the heat pump is not designed to keep up with heating the house when the outside temperature is below 30 degrees. And in Missouri we get below these temperatures many times throughout the winter months, especially at night. During these colder temperatures the heat pump needs help keeping the house warm so it relies on electric heat strips located inside the indoor air handler to help. Heat strips are actually 100% efficient (because they convert all of the electricity they use into heat) but the amount of electricity they use is very high, so the less they run the lower the utility bill is. Anytime your thermostat’s desired temperature is set more than 2 degrees above the room temperature, the thermostat will turn the heat pump on AND the heat strips at the same time. This is to heat the house as fast as possible. Adjusting the temperature this way will raise utility bills considerably. If the thermostat is set to turn down 5 degrees while you’re away at work, then turn back up 5 degrees before you arrive home, it will be activating the heat pump and heat strips at the same time. On the other hand, if the thermostat is not adjusted and the temperature inside the house is only maintained, then it will rely on the heat pump only to keep the house warm. Heating with the heat pump is much much more efficient than the heat strips.

Be sure to check with your utility company’s website for details about the rebates.

City Utilities:
http://www.cityutilities.net/conserve/pgm-therm.htm
Empire Electric:
https://www.empiredistrict.com/EnergySolutions/Electric.aspx
Ozark Electric Cooperative:
http://www.ozarksecc.com/rebate-forms
Missouri Gas Energy:
http://www.betterheatingnow.com/central-heating.html