Skip to content

Energy Tip -June 17, 2013

Save on cooling, heating costs by using a programmable thermostat

You can save on your cooling and heating bills by simply resetting your thermostat when you are asleep or away from home. You can do this automatically without sacrificing comfort by installing an automatic setback or programmable thermostat.

Letting a programmable thermostat do it for you means you won’t forget, and it allows you to be comfortable when you are home and to save energy when you are away from home. Easy to install, a programmable thermostat will pay for itself in no time. Programmable thermostats can store and repeat multiple daily settings that you can manually override without affecting the rest of the daily or weekly program.

In summer, set your thermostat as high as comfortably possible. Keep your house warmer than normal when you are away and lower the thermostat setting to 78 degrees F (or slightly above) when you are at home and need cooling. In winter, keep your home cooler when you are away and warmer—as low as comfortably possible—while awake at home. By turning your thermostat back 10 to 15 degrees for 8 hours a day, you can save 5 to 15 percent a year on your heating bill (about $50 to $150 for the average Minnesota home), according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

Although thermostats can be adjusted manually, programmable thermostats will avoid any discomfort by returning temperatures to normal before you awake or return home. To maximize performance and efficiency, place thermostats away from direct sunlight, drafts, doorways, skylights, and windows.

Check with your utility to see if it offers a rebate for programmable thermostats. For more on choosing and operating a programmable thermostat, visit DOE’s Energysaver website. To watch a video on operating a programmable thermostat, visit ENERGY STAR web resources.

Minnesota Energy Tips is provided twice a month by the Minnesota Department of Commerce, Division of Energy Resources. Contact the division’s Energy Information Center at or 800-657-3710 with energy questions.