By Tom Rhodes, 3/18/2013
A little over 2 years ago I replaced my antique thermostat with a programmable digital thermostat that cost me $25 from the local hardware store. I set the cooling program to only cool to 85 degrees from 7AM to 3:30PM, and from 3:30PM to 7AM cool to 80 degrees. I set the heating program to only heat the house to 60 except from 5:30 to 7 am and from 3:30PM to 10PM where I heat to 70 degrees. Although weekend programs can be different this is the schedule for every day. If I’m home during the hot part of the day on weekends I override the program. The results were excellent. Heating and cooling are weather dependent, so results will vary and this is not a savings for anybody whose house isn't consistently empty for significant parts of the day; but I’ve averaged using about 250KWH less electricity every month (right at 25% less electricity). It’s an important 250KWH as it keeps me under 1000KWH/month and they charge more for every KWH over 1000/month. The results since installing it are that I’ve saved over $750. My bank account isn't $750 bigger but I have more motorcycle farkles.
So an investment of $25 and 30 min of my time resulted in an average of saving $30/month every month. Even if I paid an HVAC company to replace the thermostat and paid 5 times as much, a modern digital thermostat correctly programmed can be a huge savings. The studies show that this isn’t typical and programmable thermostats don’t make a difference. Because most homes don’t sit empty for 9-12 hours a day to take advantage of programming less heating and cooling while a home is empty, this should be no surprise.
I know it's not the usual political subject, but think of it this way, the results are by reducing my electric usage by 25%, not only did save money but I denied the government about 25% of the tax dollars they would have collected based on my electrical consumption. So by reducing my spending on a federally taxed product, I’m starving the beast, and starving the beast is good. It's also an example of how efficient the voluntary free market can work to lower costs and put more money in everybody's pocket.
On a personal note, I work for the power company, so don’t any of you follow my example, it might cut into my 401K.