Thermostat Settings

Save money and maintain comfort with small changes.

Heating and cooling are major home energy costs. A programmable thermostat saves energy and money by letting you schedule your desired temperature each part of the day, each day of the week. Research consistently shows there are big savings in setting back your thermostat when you are away or sleeping.

In addition to making sure your house is well-insulated, you can also save money by using the following recommended thermostat settings for winter and summer.

Winter

The biggest savings will be achieved by setting your thermostat to 60°F in the evenings while you are asleep. You can then have the heat come on an hour before you wake so your house is comfortable.

Below is a table with recommended thermostat settings for winter. You should adjust the settings to your own waking and sleeping schedule and to what you find most comfortable. For example, if nobody is home during the day you may want to have the temperature set to 60°F or 62°F.

  6 a.m. 8 a.m. 5 p.m. 10 p.m.
Mon-Fri 67 60 67 60
Sat-Sun 62 67 67 60

Some people are comfortable setting the thermostat back to 55°F at night.

Summer

Savings in summer aren't as dramatic but can still be substantial. Note that it takes longer to cool a house to the desired temperature than to heat it.

  6 a.m. 8 a.m. 4 p.m. 10 p.m.
Mon-Fri 78 85 78 78
Sat-Sun 78 78 78 78

Why This Works

Many people hold the belief that it's cheaper to keep the house at the same temperature all the time. The thought is that it takes more energy to get the house back to a higher temperature than to keep it steady. But try this experiment: pick up a heavy weight and hold it for a few minutes, then set it down. Now walk around holding that weight for a few hours. Feel the difference? Picking it up is easy; continuously fighting gravity is hard. Likewise, it's easier for your furnace to heat the house back up than to maintain a higher temperature all the time.

Which Thermostat?

Many homes already have a programmable thermostat and can get started right away. For homes without, Home Depot has a detailed guide about the models available and tips on choosing and installing a programmable thermostat.

Newer thermostats can get pretty fancy, even allowing you to make changes from your phone or from your work computer. The key is to get a programmable thermostat you understand and that will allow you to save energy and money while remaining comfortable.

If you haven't changed your furnace air filter in the past year, now might be a good time.

Try our Home Energy Checklist for more ideas on home energy savings.