No Sweat: Programmable Thermostats Save on Energy Costs

Article by Les Shu

Advanced programmable thermostats give you precise control over your heating and cooling, helping to reduce wasted energy. Another way to help reduce energy costs would be to look at companies that could repair or upgrade your HVAC unit to one that requires less energy input like they offer over at as well as other companies. Do you live in a condo? Condo HVAC systems often require maintenance by a specialist service. If your condo HVAC system is not working as it should, there is a chance you might need to find some replacement fan coils. For more information go to

High-def, high-tech settings

You wouldn’t think of spending much time in front of your thermostat, but the newest advanced models–with their colorful touchscreen displays–are an engaging, interactive experience. They offer separate programs for each day of the week, and can even alert you if service is required.

With its high-definition screen display, Honeywell’s Prestige Comfort System resembles a mini-computer more than a traditional thermostat.

In addition to indoor temperature, the Prestige’s graphical user interface can display outdoor conditions and humidity with an add-on sensor. An on-screen wizard interviews you about your usage based on simple questions, and then sets a program accordingly. A portable controller lets you adjust settings from any room in the house, and can likely be either adapted to or included with the installation of your new unit. If you have any concerns, it can be best to contact the provider of your HVAC system. The Green Horizon One Hour Heating and Air Conditioning site has more information about means of saving money whilst using an HVAC system in your home, and could help with installation and maintenance of the system, as one example.

The Prestige is priced from $250 and up.

If you can live without a fancy display, an advanced programmable thermostat from HAIcosts around $300 to $400, while a simpler seven-day programmable model from Huntercosts $99.

Control from afar

What if you’re on your way to a long vacation, and you suddenly realized you’d forgotten to turn down your home’s thermostat?

If your home is equipped with the Smart Thermostat from ecobee, you can tap into the system through a personalized web portal anywhere there’s Internet access. Log in to check on your HVAC’s performance and make adjustments on the fly. The unit sells for $469.

Manage your home’s HVAC via a home automation app from Control 4. The sophisticated system allows you to change thermostat settings from your smartphone, pad, and PC. In addition, you can control the lighting, music, window treatment motors, and a wide range of Control 4 devices.

Know the price before you turn it on

Pilot programs for installing smart thermostats that display “time of use” pricing information are underway in regions like Florida and California. These thermostats receive a wireless signal from the utility company, and adjust the temperature according to the price of electricity during different times of the day.

With costs for air conditioning at about 70 cents to $1.20 per hour, reducing AC usage only an hour per day would yield a savings of $65 to $110 over the course of a summer.

Check with your utility company to find out if such a program is available in your area.

A writer covering the latest technologies and trends for a variety of national publications, Les Shu is currently automating his home with the newest doodads to make it smarter than he is.


Published on: Jul 17, 2011

Energy Tax Credits – It’s Not Too Late

You can receive a tax credit of 30% of the purchase price of qualified energy-efficient products, up to a maximum tax credit of $1,500. According the the IRS, “To qualify, a component must meet or exceed the criteria established by the 2000 International Energy Conservation Code (including supplements) and must be installed in the taxpayer’s main home in the United States.” The $1,500 maximum applies to to the total amount of credits claimed for the years 2009 and 2010 combined. That means your tax credits for energy-efficient improvements cannot exceed a total of $1,500 over both 2009 and 2010.

Improvements Restricted to ‘Main Home’
The tax credit for nonbusiness energy property is restricted to improvements to and appliances installed at a primary residence. Improvements made on rental homes, second homes, or vacation property are not eligible for this tax credit.

Examples of home improvements that could qualify as tax credits:

  • Exterior doors and windows
  • Storm windows
  • Skylights
  • Metal roofs
  • Insulation
  • Central air conditioning and heating
  • Geothermal heat pumps
  • Hot water boilers
  • Advanced main air circulating fans
  • Biomass fuel stoves with a thermal efficiency rating of 75% or more
  • Asphalt roofs with cooling granules


Published on: Nov 18, 2010