How to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint By Simply Adjusting Your Thermostat
Why Adjusting Your Thermostat Matters
Adjusting your thermostat is one of the simplest ways to reduce your carbon footprint and fight climate change. The way you heat and cool your home has a significant impact on your energy use and carbon emissions. By making some simple thermostat adjustments, you can lower your energy bills and greenhouse gas emissions with very little effort.
The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that heating and cooling accounts for nearly half of a home’s energy use. The higher or lower you set your thermostat, the more energy you use to maintain that temperature. Small tweaks can have a meaningful impact. I aim to keep my home around 68°F in the winter and 76°F in the summer. Just adjusting your thermostat by 7°-10°F from the norm when you’re not home can reduce your energy use by up to 10% a year.
How to Adjust Your Thermostat for Maximum Efficiency
Here are some tips for adjusting your thermostat to maximize energy savings and reduce your carbon footprint:
Program Your Thermostat
- Invest in a programmable or smart thermostat. This allows you to set different temperatures for when you are home, asleep, or away.
- Set your thermostat to 68°F or below in the winter and 78°F or above in the summer when you are not home or asleep. The wider the temperature swing, the more energy you will save.
- Avoid drastic temperature adjustments – aim for increments of 5-8 degrees Fahrenheit at a time. The smaller changes are easier for your HVAC system to handle.
Find the Right Thermostat Settings For You
- When home, find a comfortable temperature and stick to it – I keep mine at 70°F in winter, 76°F in summer.
- Adjust in 2-degree increments until you find your ideal comfort zone without overheating or overcooling.
- Turn down heat at night – set your thermostat to 60-65°F while sleeping comfortably under blankets.
- If you have a forced-air furnace, set the fan to “auto” so it only runs when heating or cooling is on.
Take Advantage of Nature
- Open blinds and curtains during the day to allow sunlight to naturally warm your home in cold months.
- Close blinds and curtains at night to provide insulation.
- Turn off HVAC systems on nice days and open windows to let in fresh outdoor air.
How Much Could You Save?
The amount you can save by adjusting your thermostat depends on several factors like your home size, HVAC system, and local energy costs. Here are some estimates:
- Lowering your thermostat 10°-15°F for 8 hours a day can save 5-15% a year on heating costs, or over $80 annually.
- Setting your thermostat to 78°F vs. 72°F in summer can reduce cooling costs by 20%, saving you over $175 per year.
- Investing in a programmable thermostat costs around $50 but can provide 7-15% in annual HVAC savings, paying for itself in under a year.
- Smart thermostats like Nest can save 8-15% more than programmable models, up to $131 annually.
Every degree of adjustment counts when trying to save energy! Adjusting your thermostat requires very little effort while having a big impact on your carbon footprint and wallet. Give it a try – the planet and your bank account will thank you.