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Winter Thermostat Programming – Everything You Need to Know

You could save a fortune on your heating this winter – if only you fully understood your thermostat.

According to the Department of Energy, leaving your thermostat on too high can lead to an incredibly high energy bell. At the same time, setting back that thermostat when you’re asleep or away can lead to incredible savings.

According to the report, you can “save 5 percent to 15 percent a year on your heating bill – a savings as much as 1 percent for each degree if the setback period is eight hours long.”

With figures like these, it’s easy to see why most heating and cooling specialists (including us) recommend that you get a programmable thermostat. But through our experience working with businesses and homeowners throughout North Carolina, here’s something we’ve realized:

Most people don’t fully understand how to use their thermostats. And, to make matters worse, only about 30% of homes across the country have a programmable thermostat (even though that technology’s been around for 30+ years).

But going back to those homes that do have a programmable thermostat. A 2003 study conducted by Carrier found that just 47% of programmable thermostats were actually placed in “program” mode. 50% were in “hold” mode (which turns a programmable thermostat into a manual one).

So what’s the problem? Why aren’t more homeowners across the country, and right here in North Carolina, buying, or even properly using, programmable thermostats?


There are many reasons why North Carolinians may not use programmable thermostats correctly. But the biggest issue we’ve found is that most folks who buy these thermostats do so (and install them) without consulting a heating specialist.

Many times, when we go to a customer’s home, we’ll find they’ve purchased a new thermostat online, or at a hardware store, and attempted to install it, only to do so incorrectly.

The problem is, this DIY approach can (and often does) cause significant damage to the heating and air conditioning system. This ends up costing them far more than if they’d have purchased a thermostat directly from a heating specialist, and allowed these professionals to install it from the start.

Not only can a professional, like our field technicians, install these thermostats correctly. But we can also offer you advice on which device to get for your specific needs.

Take, for example, the ever-so-popular “Nest” smart thermostat. Because of some clever marketing, and the fact that it’s owned by Google, most homeowners know of the Nest. When they think about buying a new thermostat for their home, they hop online, buy the Nest, and expect to save hundreds of dollars each year because of their purchase.

But Honeywell makes a similar product, called the Lyric. And, from our hands-on experience installing thermostats across the state, we’ve found that the Lyric is far more dependable than the Nest.


A lot of North Carolina homeowners don’t go out to buy their own thermostats. They’re grandfathered into their lives when they move into an apartment or home.

The problem is, they never learn to operate these thermostats. More often than not, they settle for ‘one-button-management’ which limits the positive impact a thermostat can have on your energy bill.

That’s why we fully recommend homeowners to hire a heating specialist to come and perform an energy audit on their home. As a part of this audit, you’ll learn:

  • What type of energy waste occurs due to drafts, etc.
  • If you have the right thermostat to meet your needs (and recommendations for new ones if applicable)
  • How to operate your existing thermostat
  • As well as an inspection of your entire HVAC system

Think of these audits as peace of mind that you’re doing everything you can to reduce your energy costs without compromising your comfort.

Want to learn more about how best to prepare for cold North Carolina winters? Give our team a call today to set up a consultation.

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