If you’re like most of us, you spent the winter tucked away inside, away from the arctic air that took over the Northern Virginia and Washington DC area. You layered clothes and snuggled under blankets in your attempt to keep winter heating costs down.
Thankfully, glorious spring weather has arrived. But soon, the quest to lower summer energy costs will begin.
No matter who pays the heating and cooling costs, ditching the old manual model and adding a programmable thermostat in rental properties makes sense. If you are paying for heat, a programmable thermostat can make it easy and automatic for tenants to conserve by keeping the home at a comfortable temperature when they’re home no matter what the weather is outside. And that will save you money.
But, it makes sense even if your tenants pay for all heating and cooling. At a very low initial cost, you can help tenants stay comfortable in the home and save on utilities, which can never hurt with tenant retention. And, it makes sense environmentally.
Turning the thermostat back 7 to 10 degrees from its typical setting for 8 hours every day can save as much as 10 percent a year on heating and cooling. A programmable thermostat will allow your tenants to schedule when the heat and air conditioning should come on. That way, the home will be the perfect temperature when when they get home, but they won’t waste energy cooling it during the day.
Programmable thermostats can store several daily settings. So, for instance, you can set it so that Fido doesn’t overheat from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. At 3 p.m., the air can pump on, allowing tenants to walk in to a cool, comfortable home at 4:30. And if company is coming or schedules change, tenants can temporarily override the program settings.
A common misconception associated with thermostats is that a furnace works harder than normal to warm the space back to a comfortable temperature after the thermostat has been set back, resulting in little or no savings. But that isn’t the case. The truth is that in winter, the house loses heat more slowly when the inside temperature is lower. So the longer your house remains at the lower temperature, the more energy you save, because your house has lost less energy than it would have at the higher temperature. The same applies to raising your thermostat setting in the summer – a keeping your house at a higher temperature will actually slow hot air flowing into your house, saving energy on air conditioning.
The location of your thermostat will also affect its efficiency. Make sure to install it on an interior wall, away from direct sunlight, doorways and windows. It should be located where natural room air flow occurs. Don’t put any furniture directly below the thermostat, which disrupts the air flow.
Installation is pretty easy.
While it may take a few days of guessing when you first start setting your new thermostat, after some trial and error you and your tenants will be able to save money and energy while maintaining a comfortable home.