Summer is over for another year, and that means that Austinites can finally unpack their sweaters and fuzzy socks. While we have a shorter and more mild winter than many of our friends to the north, that doesn’t mean we don’t need to keep our homes warm in the winter. A common question most people have is what temperature to set the thermostat when they are away, whether that means you are simply at work or if you are on a trip. It can be difficult to know what temperature to leave an empty house in the winter.
Temperature to Leave Your House in Winter
Below are some tips for saving energy while keeping your house comfortable year-round.
Ideal Temperatures for your Home
Setting temperatures for your home seems simple, but it can actually be a bit of a balancing act between comfort and HVAC efficiency.
According to Consumer Reports, if you want to save money on air conditioning costs in the summer, you should keep your home at 78°F when you’re home and awake, 82° when you’re sleeping, and 85° when you’re away. According to their studies, you save 3% on your AC costs each time you raise the temperature one degree. Use fans to keep air moving and you might find you’re more comfortable at a warmer temperature.
In the winter, you’ll want to set your thermostat at 68° when you’re home and awake, and lower it when you’re sleeping or away from home. Use heavy curtains to block heat loss through window panes (or consider installing double-paned or insulated windows). Try using electric blankets or space heaters to avoid raising the thermostat at night.
How to Improve HVAC Efficiency
Here are a few things you can do to improve the efficiency of your HVAC system:
- Replace your air filters regularly. In dusty climates or in pet households, this should be done monthly.
- Clean your air vents and registers
- Make sure your HVAC unit is inspected annually.
- Seal air leaks around windows and doors with weatherstripping, caulk or expandable foam.
- Use a programmable/automatic thermostat
- In the summer, reduce heat generation by turning off lights, keeping windows closed with curtains or shutters drawn to reduce sunlight, and use heat-generating appliances (dishwashers, ovens and clothes dryers).
- Install energy-efficient Energy Star heating and cooling units.
- Get an energy audit. Many city utility companies offer low-cost or free audits of your home to help you determine ways you can save money on cooling and heating costs. They may also offer special rebates on energy-efficient appliances. For the City of Austin, you can learn more at the Austin Energy website.
An inexpensive and easy way to save money on your heating and AC bills is to install an automatic thermostat. These allow you to program different temperature settings for different times of day as well as different days of the week. You can have special settings for waking up and going to bed, when you leave for work and arrive home, and other times during the day, with an option to change the settings for winter and summer as well as weekends.
Smart, or self-programmable, thermostats you can access through mobile apps, are taking the market by storm. Three recommended by Lifehacker include the Nest, the Ecobee3, and Honeywell’s Wi-Fi Smart Thermostat. These thermostats allow you to set your temperatures on the device as well as remotely using an app on your phone. They can adjust for time of day and season of the year, and some even show you energy savings on the app. While these are more pricey options, they can save you a bunch of money in the long run.
Is It Time for Your HVAC Inspection?
Whether it’s 100° or 32° outside, at ABC Home & Commercial Services we want to make sure you don’t sweat your home’s heating and air conditioning needs. We offer a number of services to help keep your home comfortable year-round. Call us for regular inspections of your HVAC unit, as well as your ductwork and potential heating/AC loss around windows and doors. We can also install programmable or internet thermostats to reduce heating and AC costs. Our friendly staff will provide expert advice to help you keep your cool, no matter what the weather’s like outside.