What’s the best way to program your thermostat for seasons?

What’s the best way to program your thermostat for seasons? For example, if it’s 80 degrees out, and I want it at 70 when I’m home, what’s the best setting for when I’m gone to save money? Also, Is it better to turn it down at night (and will it save money)?

Michigan is a place of four seasons, which means there is a lot of fluctuation in temperature throughout the year. It’s cold and dry in winter, hot and humid in summer, and everywhere in between in the spring and fall. Most homes have both heating and cooling systems, which can be set (programmed if you have a programmable thermostat) to help you save some money and energy.

Your home’s heating and cooling systems work a little differently. In the winter, we recommend fluctuating the temperature in your home by about eight degrees between occupied and unoccupied time. Anything greater than an eight degree swing risks diminished returns upon heat recovery.

For example, a general schedule looks something like this:

6:00 am (wake) – 68 degrees.
8:00 am (depart) – 60 degrees.
5:00 pm (return) – 68 degrees.
10:00 pm (sleep) – 65 degrees.

Most modern thermostats have what’s called “adaptive recovery,” meaning they will actually kick on about a half hour before the return time to make sure your house is nice and warm by the time you actually get home. If your thermostat doesn’t work that way, we recommend you shift your schedule half an hour to make up for it.

In the summer, air conditioning is a different story. The greatest comfort battle we face in Michigan is not necessarily with temperature, but with humidity. In the summer we want to maintain a fairly consistent temperature in the home to make sure the system can properly dehumidify the house.

Unlike furnaces, air conditioners are much more effective at achieving a temperature and keeping it there than they are at large recoveries throughout the day. You can still fluctuate your temperature a little, but probably only between 2 and 5 degrees difference to maximize its efficiency and keep the humidity down in your home.

Setting your thermostat in this way should save you a little bit on your energy bills while keeping your home comfortable. It’s the best of both worlds!

Chad Baumann
Sales & Marketing Manager
Residential comfort expert. Recognized nationally as a top 40 under 40 in the HVAC industry. 10 years of experience in the HVAC field.