According to the U.S. Department of Energy, turning your thermostat back for eight hours a day will save you as much as 10 percent a year in heating and cooling costs. See the DOE website for more details. Since a good entry level programmable thermostat costs only around $25 or so, that means it could pay for itself in the first month you own it. During the summer months, just set the thermostat to go 8 degrees higher hours the time you are away from the house. And in the winter, 8 degrees lower than usual. If you don't already have a programmable thermostat, you can find one in our gadget store.
How to install your programable thermostat
Your first step will be to turn off the power to the furnace and central air conditioning unit either by shutting off the curcuit breaker or removing the fuse at the service panel. Remove the old thermostat cover from the mounting plate.
Uninstall the old mounting plate by unscrewing it from the wall, but without disconnecting any wires. The old thermostat will have a letter to identify each wire. Attach a label (included with your new thermostat or use masking tape) to each wire corresponding to the letter on the old thermostat.
Once the wires are clearly marked, disconnect the wires from the screw terminals. Wrap the wires around a pencil to prevent them from falling back into the wall. If you find that there is old paint color behind the mounting plate, be sure that the new thermostat cover will cover over the mismatched paint. If it does not, you will need to repaint the wall before installation of the new thermostat.
Level and prep the thermostat base. Do this by threading the wires through the base of the new thermostat, making certain that the base is flush against the wall and that none of the wires are trapped behind it. To ensure that it's perfectly level, place a torpedo level on top of the base and adjust accordingly. Use a pencil to mark the center of the mounting plate's screw holes.
Remove the base and drill a 3/16" diameter hole at each marked screw location. When drilling the holes, hold a vacuum cleaner hose against the wall to catch any dust from the drywall.
Using a hammer to gently tap plastic anchors into the pre-drilled holes, attach the base to the wall. Reposition the thermostat over the anchors and thread the wires through the base of the new thermostat and insert the mounting screws.Ensuring the base is still level, use the torpedo level once again and tighten the base to the wall. Tighten the mounting screws.
Connect the wires. If neccessary, remove about 1/4" of plastic insulation from the tips of the wires with a wire stripper. Now connect the wires to the screw terminals, matching each label to the corresponding letter on the terminal. Be sure to consult the wiring diagram in the installation manual to be certain everything is properly connected.
Switch on the power to the thermostat and turn the power back on at the curcuit breaker or insert the fuse back into the service panel, then follow the thermostat's manual to program the unit. Run a test in both the auto and manual modes to confirm that power is restored to both the furnace and air conditioning unit as directed by the thermostat's settings.
Pre-programmable thermostats are intended to offer savings without the sacrifice of comfort. You will see signifigant savings when sticking with settings that work with your family's schedule. The key is to establish a program that automatically reduces heating and cooling in the home when you don't need them.