My coworker came into work the other day complaining about a $225 heating bill. That is about 3 times as much as my wife and I normally pay! We had a couple straight weeks below freezing, so the high amount wasn’t very surprising. But it still seemed higher than it should be. When I asked him about it, he said it was only about $50 higher than normal.
A few questions later I was able to determine that his house is roughly the same square footage as ours, we have the same gas company, and the reason why his bill is so much higher than ours - he leaves his thermostat set at 75 degrees 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, regardless of whether or not someone is home. I could understand this if he were married and had an infant at home at all hours of the day, but he is single and has two dogs.
This is a brief excerpt of our conversation:
“Why don’t you turn the thermostat down when you go to work,” I asked?
“Because I feel bad if my dogs get cold,” was his reply.
My thought was – “I feel bad paying $200 per month!” Of course, I didn’t say that out loud!
Use a programmable thermostat to save money
I gave him some information about how he could save at least 20% on his monthly utility bill by installing and correctly using a programmable thermostat, which costs about $32. If used correctly, the programmable thermostat would pay for itself in the first month! I also pointed my friend toward these free tips to saving money on heating and these inexpensive ways to save money on heating.
The US Department of Energy estimates you can save10% on your heating bill by rolling back your thermostat 10-15% for just 8 hours! Since he is gone 10 hours a day for work and sleeping 6-8 hours of the day, he really only needs to keep his house warm enough for his standards a few hours per day. Reducing his average temperature by 10% for a total of 16 hours per day could save him 20% on his heating bill! As for the dogs, I think they will be fine in a cooler environment.
What temperature should you set? I recommended he set the thermostat to automatically come on to 70 when he comes home from work, go down to 65 when he goes to sleep, warm the house before he awakens, and go back down to the low 60′s when he leaves for work. Your thermostat will automatically regulates your home’s temperature and you never think about it again – or at least until the seasons change.
These recommendations are sensible, and not too drastic of a change for most people to deal with. Again, I think his dogs will be fine. My wife and I actually keep our temperatures a little cooler during the winter, at 68 when we are home, and 55 when we are away. But, it is easier to make transitional changes instead of drastic changes, so I recommended the middle ground for my friend. In the summer we usually set the thermostat at 76-78 when we are at home.
What is too hot or too cool for a thermostat setting? In my opinion, if you can walk around your house in shorts and a t-shirt in the winter, you probably have your heater set too high. Conversely, in the summer, if you need to wear pants and a sweatshirt to stay warm enough to be comfortable, you probably have your AC turned set too low. In both cases, you are probably wasting a lot of money.
What temperature do you set your thermostat?