We’re sure you already know the major benefit of turning down your thermostat, which is that you will save energy and this means saving money. But did you know that if you turn down the thermostat so that you’re dropping the temperature just one to five degrees it will help you lose weight and get a better night’s sleep?
Get a programmable thermostat
The easiest way to turn down the temperature is with a programmable thermostat. You could set it to lower your temperature at night or when you’re at work. We have seen tests that show you will see a difference in your utility bill if you lower your home’s temperature for just four hours a day. Beyond this, here are five ways you could improve your life by lowering your home’s temperature that would probably never occur to you.
Prolong the life of your plants
Plants will actually live longer if you drop the temperature in your home to below 75°. We won’t get into the technicalities of this but suffice it to say that when the house is cooler your plants basically need less water. If you’re heading out of town this is especially important as it reduces the chances that you will come home to lifeless plants. Of course, this is assuming that you don’t have tropical plants.
Want to lose weight without hitting your neighborhood health club? We have a little-known weight loss secret. It’s that you can shed a few pounds just by dropping your thermostat below 70°. While you don’t want your house to be so cold that you’re uncomfortable and shivering, it can be cool enough that a light sweater would feel just perfect. Here’s how this works. Your energy expenditure increases as the temperature drops so you burn more calories or roughly 100 more a day. This increased energy can translate into an extra 3500 calories burned in just a few weeks. This means you would lose one pound.
Give your refrigerator and freezer a longer life
You know that your freezer and refrigerator work really hard to keep your food fresh and safe. But you could cut them some slack. When your house is below 65°, those big appliances don’t have to work as hard to keep your food cool. This can easily translate into fewer maintenance problems and a longer lifespan. The fact is that the lower the temperature, the easier it will be on your refrigerator and freezer. Also, try to drop the temperature down dramatically when you’re heading out of town for a few days. But don’t go below 55°F or you’ll be risking frozen pipes.
Get a better night’s sleep
If you lower your home’s temperature by about 5° – or below 65° – you’ll get a better night’s sleep. The reason this works is because when you go to sleep your “set point” or the temperature your brain needs to reach before going to sleep is lowered. If your room is too warm, you’ll have a tougher time reaching this point and falling asleep.
Just one little degree
If you’re serious about lowering your energy bill, think about this: A one-degree drop in temperature can reduce your energy bill by 1% to 3%. You could save even more money by dropping your thermostat by 5° to 10° while you’re asleep. You’ll not only get a better night’s sleep you’ll also lower your energy bill by anywhere from 10% to 15%.
You could make things even easier by investing in a Nest thermostat. This is a new, smart thermostat that actually learns how you live and adjusts the temperature in your home accordingly. It’s so smart it will ask you a few basic questions and will then optimize itself to your system and begin learning from your temperature changes. So instead of having to learn how to program a thermostat, it will program itself. Nest learns the temperatures that you like and then builds a personalized schedule for you. All you have to do is teach it your preferred temperatures for several days and within a week it’ll start setting them on its own. Nest also has an “Auto-Away” mode that will turn off your system when your home reaches the minimum temperature you choose when you set it up. And of course, the lower the temperature the more you’ll save on energy. If you have pets or plants, be sure to keep their needs in mind before you set the thermostat too low.
Turn it down at night
You can keep warm at night by sleeping under a thick blanket and with the temperature down to save money. Do this for a couple of nights and Nest will learn this and begin doing it for you. Just remember that if you turn the temperature all the way up your home won’t heat up any quicker. You could turn your thermostat all the way up to 85° but this won’t make the air come out of your finance any hotter. It just causes your heater to run longer. Instead you could use Nest’s “Time to Temperature” to determine exactly how low or high to set your temperature. You may not know whether you want the temperature to be 72° or 74° but it will be easy for you to see the difference between running your furnace for 15 minutes vs. an hour.
Watch for the leaf
The Nest “Leaf” shows up when you turn it to an energy-saving temperature. And the more often you see the Leaf, the more you’ll save. Nest will track your energy usage in its Energy History memory so you can see exactly how much you’ve saved.
What else you could do to save energy
We don’t know about where you live but we’re seeing extraordinarily cold weather. If this is also true for you, now would be a good time to not only invest in either a programmable or Nest thermostat but to also take stock of the other things you could do to stay comfortable and yet cut your energy bill. One of the cheapest and most effective things you could do is weather strip your windows and doors. These are where cold air most often finds its way into your home. You should be able to buy all the weather stripping and vinyl foam tape you would need for less than $20. If you have really old windows you might consider covering them with clear plastic storm windows. We have seen two packs of 36″ x 72″ plastic storm windows for less than $4.50. And 3M has a window insulator kit for five windows that usually costs about $18. These plastic windows are said to be easy to apply. Once you tape them in place, you simply use a standard hairdryer to shrink them tight and they should be wrinkle free and clear. 3M also says that one of these windows will increase the R-value of a single-pane window by 90%.
Another way you can reduce your energy costs is by making sure you unplug appliances that you don’t use very often such as a second refrigerator in your basement or garage. This may sound silly but you should unplug your chargers when you’re not using them to charge one of your devices. You could also use a power strip to turn off your televisions and stereos when you’re not using them. This may surprise you but when you think these products are “off,” their energy consumption when on “standby” can be the equivalent of a 75- or 100-watt light bulb running continuously. You should also set your computers to hibernate and sleep. If you enable the “sleep mode” it will use less power when it’s inactive.
More ways to cut your electricity bill
Watch this short video to learn more things you could do to cut your electricity usage.
Let your computer to sleep and hibernate
And, finally, you could configure your computer to “hibernate” automatically after you have not used it for 30 minutes or so. This will turn the computer off but in a way that doesn’t mean you’ll have to reload everything when you switch it back on. When you allow your computer to hibernate, you will save energy and it‘s more time-efficient than shutting it down and restarting it from scratch. Of course, you should be sure shut it down when you’re through for the day.