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HVAC Service & Repair: Should I Leave the Thermostat at One Setting?

thermostat ecobee proThose of us in or near Oswego, Yorkville, Naperville, Aurora and Plainfield (IL) are unique individuals with our own personal preferences. That includes what we consider comfortable with our HVAC settings at home.

During winter, some of us like to maintain indoor temps in the low 70s at almost all times. Others might prefer to adjust settings to whatever external factors might be.

Here at Air Dynamics, customers will sometimes ask us whether it makes sense to leave the thermostat at one setting throughout the colder months instead of adjusting it during the day.

How we operate and maintain our HVAC temperatures also can influence our need (or lack thereof) for service and repair.

Let’s arrive at some answers and thoughts that can further inform you.

HVAC Service & Repair: Newton’s Law of Cooling

Newton’s Law of Cooling describes an object’s rate of heat loss to its surroundings. It puts forth that an object’s rate of temperature change is proportional to the difference between its temperature and the temperature of what is around it.

Let’s say you have two medium-sized stones. One is heated to 80° and the other to 60°. You set them both outside, where the temperature is 40°. According to the Law of Cooling, the stone heated to 80° will begin losing heat faster in the cold than the one heated to 60°.

At the same time, the two stones’ heat loss will slow as their temperatures both get closer to 40°. The temperature change is faster when the gap between the object and air temperatures is wider and slower as they get closer.

HVAC Service & Repair: The Law of Cooling and Your Home

Let’s say the temperature outside of a 2,000sf home in Oswego, Yorkville, Naperville, Aurora or Plainfield is 35°.

It’s a Tuesday in January, and the temperature outside is 32°. You go to work with the setting at 72° and leave it that way for the day (eight hours).

According to the Law of Cooling, your heating system will run longer and more often to maintain 72° during the eight hours than if you had set it at 62°. This is because at 72° the house will lose heat more rapidly because of its greater difference from the outside temperature.

If on the other hand you go to work with the therm at 62°, you will use notably less energy – and less utility cost – to maintain the temperature. The house will lose heat less rapidly because of its smaller difference from the external temperature.

The main thing to remember is that when you turn down the thermostat, the house does lose some heat but not all of it, because the loss slows as it inches closer to the temperature outside.

So what does that mean for you?

HVAC Service & Repair: Single Thermostat Setting vs. One That Adjusts

Whether you maintain one setting or adjust it according to periods of home occupation is, in the end, a true matter of personal preference. You might be someone who simply chooses to walk in and out of a single comfortable setting.

Conversely, you might like to save a little cost and energy while you’re away for several hours. You also don’t mind the period in which the home must heat back up to your desired setting upon your return. Note the time the furnace must run for heat recovery will depend on the health of the HVAC system, the temperature outside (e.g. 0° or 32°), and the efficiency of the home’s seals and insulation.

On the average, if you keep a steady temperature throughout the day (i.e. 24 hours), you will potentially spend a couple or few more dollars on heating for the day, depending on the current energy rate. At the same time, you can enjoy a “set it and forget it” home environment.

If you feel adaptable about managing settings, you can save the potential dollars and draw a little less energy by adjusting temperatures to your daily regimen, such as waking, working, relaxing and sleeping. Plus, with today’s technology, you now have even greater command of your settings through programmable thermostats.

HVAC Service & Repair: Programmable Thermostats

According to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), your HVAC accounts for about half of your home’s energy consumption. When you install a smart thermostat, the unit will learn your heating and cooling preferences plus your typical daily schedule and use that data to optimize your system’s run time. This in turn can also help reduce unnecessary system operation and limit the need for extra HVAC service and repair.

Here at Air Dynamics, our favorite smart thermostat is the Ecobee, which includes wireless sensors to monitor temperature and occupancy so it can provide more-even temperatures throughout your home while using less energy. Our customers have enjoyed some fantastic results in their homes with smart thermostats, often achieving as little as a one-degree temperature difference between floors.

Most smart thermostats let you download a phone app you can use to monitor and control your system from anywhere. You can manage your home settings whether you’re in bed or on a beach vacation.

Smart thermostats also will notify you if there’s a problem with your system. You can even set some apps to notify us at Air Dynamics that your system might need attention.

The DOE estimates homeowners using programmable thermostats properly can save as much as 15% a year on HVAC energy costs by simply setting back the temperature by 7°-10°F for eight hours a day from its normal setting.

HVAC Service & Repair: Self-Advocating for More Performance, Lower Costs

You can reinforce greater HVAC efficiency and savings during winter by following a few simple steps. Each year, make a point to:

test your heating system before winter or early in the season (preferably before the real cold arrives); ideally, run it three times to confirm proper operation

inspect the air filter consistently, especially during times of bitter cold when the furnace is running more

make sure air vents and registers are dust-free and unobstructed

remain current with weather forecasts so you know how temperatures may be affecting system operation

schedule HVAC maintenance in spring and fall to ensure house-wide system health

You also can consider using a ductless mini-split system to warm specific rooms to desired temperatures without having to add extra ducts. A mini-split lets you create climate zones at home as well. As specialists in indoor-air quality, we can answer your questions about the advantages of maintaining your heating (and cooling) this way.

HVAC Answers, Service & Repair: Contact Us Today

We are a rooted service provider for the Oswego, Yorkville, Naperville, Aurora and Plainfield (IL) communities, and as such, we care about your comfort, safety and best use of your HVAC budget. If you’d like to further discuss home temperatures and thermostats or you need to inquire about HVAC service or repair, simply give us a call at (630) 731-1550!

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