Energy Efficiency Savings for the New Year: Part 4 of 4 – Programmable Thermostats and Attic Insulation

By Vernon Trollinger, January 29, 2013, Energy Efficiency, News, Save Money

As we step into the new year, one of the biggest resolutions people set with any fresh calendar is to save money in as many ways as possible. At Bounce Energy, we want to help you meet these goals with our new 4-part series that details a dozen different ways that you can save money by implementing energy efficiency strategies in your home. In our second installment, we’ll discuss your thermostat, insulation, and savings potential.

Programmable thermostats, Insulating your Attic, and How Much Energy Efficiency Saves You

Keeping your home warm during the cold and damp winter can add to your winter Texas electric or Pennsylvania power bills. Improving your home’s energy efficiency cuts your winter heating costs AND will also reduce your summer cooling bills while making your home more comfortable. Before moving on to just how much you can save by implementing the tips from all 4 parts of our series, let’s look at the last two items on the list that make your home more energy efficient: a programmable thermostat and insulation.

Programmable Thermostats

Programmable thermostats let you set the temperature for a comfortable, seasonally appropriate level for every time of day. The most common practice is to set a comfortable level for waking, a lower temperature for being away during the day, and then a slightly higher, more comfortable level again one hour before coming home. At the end of the day, the temperature is set to fall again to the lower temperature while you sleep and  then to rise one hour before you wake. Since it takes more energy over time to maintain temperature than it does to bring your home or business up to the correct temperature, programmable thermostats work wonders to improve energy efficiency. According to, when programmable thermostats are used correctly (ie: when you are active in your home), a homeowner can save “anywhere from 10 to 30% on the space heating and cooling portion of their energy bills.”

Programmable thermostats have been around for nearly 15 years and very basic ones used to cost $75 or more. Thankfully, you can now pick one up for under $30. There are even fancy ones with more features, such as air filter replacement scheduling and humidity readouts. Even more sophisticated ones are equipped with built-in WIFI and a web-interface that let you control/monitor them from your tablet or laptop.

Insulating Your Attic

One of the other crucial energy efficiency improvements is adding insulation to your attic. It’s also one of the most expensive. Throughout most of the country, the US DOE recommends at least R30 (about 1 foot of blown cellulose or fiberglass) for attic insulation and a minimum of a R13 (a bit more than 3 inches of blown cellulose or fiberglass) in the walls. Unfortunately, most homes built in the past two decades are built with R13 in the walls and attic; few have R30 in the attic. The main reason is that an R30 attic can add another $1,000 to $3,000 to the cost of a house. On the other hand, that up-front cost means lower utility bills and increased home comfort for years afterward.

Insulation works through thermal resistance; it slows down the transference of heat from the heated space to the attic. Insulation is rated in terms of thermal transference resistance or “R value”. The bigger, the better. Different materials also have different R values depending on their thickness and how they are installed.

The great thing about installing insulation is that you don’t need to do it all at once. If you are on a budget, you can start by insulating the center portion of your home first and later add insulation as you work outwards. If you do the work yourself, always remember to wear protective clothing and breather filtration mask to protect your lungs from insulation dust and fibers. Also remember to leave room for air to enter the attic through the soffit venting under the eaves. These vents help your attic circulate air to keep dry in the winter and cool in the summer.

How Much Energy Efficiency Saves You

So, with all these energy efficiency improvements we’ve been recommending over the last 4 posts, just how much can a home owner save? By first correcting your air and ductwork sealing, and then installing a programmable thermostat and the right amount of insulation, you can reduce energy costs by up to 3%0. If you’ve done great work, an average savings could be as high a $400 for the year. By insulating the water heater and adding foam pipe insulation, you can save an additional $20 per year. And exorcising those energy vampires, you take off another $50.
 Plus, with temperature better controlled, your home will feel more comfortable.

That’s $470 in savings. And the best thing is that you only need to do most of these energy efficient improvements ONCE. So, you keep on saving that money off your winter Texas electric or Pennsylvania power bills year after year.

For more information on these and other energy efficient home improvements, check out the Bounce Energy Do-It-Yourself Energy Efficiency Projects eBook and all the other Bounce Energy posts packed full of Energy Efficiency tips.

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