Turning the Thermostat Down (or Up)

A simple way to cut your heating and cooling costs is to turn your thermostat down one degree in winter and up one degree in summer. One degree — which you probably won't even notice — can save you up to $100 a year on your heating and cooling bills.

Using a programmable thermostat is a simple way to do this. These thermostats automatically turn your temperatures up and down at preset times. So if you are always in bed by 11:00 in the winter, you program the thermostat to turn down the heat at 11:15, saving you money all night.

It then turns the temperature back up at 6:30 in the morning, so you wake up to a toasty house. It turns the temperature down again while you're away at work and turns it up just before you get home.

These thermostats are easy to program — look for one that offers daytime and nighttime settings, plus separate settings for the weekend, when you're likely to be home more and sleep in later. Because programmable thermostats actually turn the temperature down, they pay for themselves in a couple of months.

Programmable thermostats are available at all home-improvement stores and cost between $35 and $75, depending on the features they offer. Look for one that has both weekday and weekend settings, especially if you tend to wake up later in the morning on Saturdays and Sundays.

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