Programmable Thermostats & Saving Energy
With the increasing cost of energy, householders are naturally conscious of the energy they consume and, as a result—coupled with an increased environmental awareness—many are making an effort to conserve energy. Many energy-conscious households install devices such as energy-saving light bulbs and appliances to help curb energy usage and cost. In the winter months, houses with thermostats tend to conserve the most energy when it comes to heating, and of those, programmable thermostats, which automatically adjust the temperature setting according to the time of day, make it easiest to maintain and regulate the amount of energy used to heat a home.
Programmable Thermostats & Canadians
Programmable thermostats have become in- creasingly popular among Canadians alike. Since the development of the R-2000 Initiative in the early 1980s, building practices have been evolving in terms of building materials, and different standards for housing components that are more energy efficient. This has had a notable impact on both new and existing homes and additions of technologies such as programmable thermostats have allowed the residential sector to become a leader in the reduction of GHG emissions.
In 1994, 15% of thermostats in BC households were programmable; by 2006, this percentage had grown to 36%. With higher numbers seen in every province, the Canadian average also grew significantly over the same period, with increases ranging from 10 percentage points in Nova Scotia (from 9% in 1994 to 19% in 2006) to 26 percentage points in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Ontario (reaching 41%, 36% and 50%, R-2000 is an initiative developed by Natural Resources Canada, in partnership with Canada’s residential construction industry, with the aim of promoting the use of cost-effective, energy-efficient building practices and technologies with rigorous energy consumption targets. Load calculations are important to match your heat loss and heat gain while designing a house or building so that optimum energy requiremnets are met. Of course, to realize its full energy-saving potential a programmable thermostat must be put to use. However, in 2006, of the BC households that had one such device, 18% did not program it. This was the case most frequently in Victoria, where nearly a quarter (22%) of households did not program their programmable thermostat.
Lowering one’s household temperature at some point during the day can have a significant effect on energy use in the home. Lowering a thermostat by just one degree can cut as much as 10% off a residential heating bill.7 By easing system use when dwellings are unoccupied or when the occupants are asleep, energy consumption is reduced. Not surprisingly, the most common time for most households to lower the temperature is at night, regardless of whether or not they have a programmable thermostat.
However, this process is facilitated for those whose thermostats are programmable and this is reflected in the likelihood of households to lower the temperature in their homes while they sleep. For example, of households that programmed their programmable thermostats in 2006, 73% lowered the temperature while they slept, but only 49% of householders manually lowered the temperature at night (includ- ing those who owned a nonprogrammable thermostat or who did not program their pro- grammable device). Programmable thermostats facilitate energy conservation and money saving by optimizing the operation of heating sys- tems. This is reflected in the higher likelihood of households equipped with and using these mechanisms to lower temperatures compared to those who have to remember to do so manually.