Green Mountain Energy® Blog

Do Programmable Thermostats Save Energy & Money?

Illustration of living room with programmable thermostat on the wall set to 70 degrees.
Illustration of living room with programmable thermostat on the wall set to 70 degrees.
Illustration of living room with programmable thermostat on the wall set to 70 degrees.

The quick answer to whether programmable thermostats save energy is yes. Maximizing how much you save requires proper installation, set up and use. A good ratio to remember is that for every 1°F you turn down your thermostat, you’ll use 1% less energy.

ENERGY STAR estimates that homeowners properly using programmable thermostats can save about $180 a year. Since nearly half of your energy bills are made up of heating and cooling costs, having a programmable thermostat in your home would be a pretty smart move.


  1. When shopping for thermostats, check their compatibility with your system’s equipment and choose one that has the right scheduling options for you (e.g., do you need a variety of program schedules or will one or two suffice?).
  2. Find an installation spot on an interior wall away from heat/draft sources, such as vents, doorways and windows, and be sure not to block the unit with furniture. The thermostat should be easily accessible for programming.
  3. Ensure that your system is off (breaker, too!) during replacement and follow the installation instructions.
  4. Lowe’s offers step-by-step instructions and a two-minute video to walk you through the process.
  5. Consider hiring an HVAC professional for the installation if it’s not a simple replacement or you don’t feel comfortable doing the job yourself.


  1. Customize programs based on your household’s schedule, not the factory-installed settings.
  2. Outline the times when you’re awake, sleeping, leaving and returning home.
  3. When getting started, take a few days to adjust the program until it’s in sync with your needs/schedule.
  4. Check out ENERGY STAR’s setpoint times and temperatures recommendations as a guide to get you started.

Proper use

  1. Use the energy-saving set-points for extended periods of time, such as when you’re at work, sleeping or traveling.
  2. Avoid large swings and constant changes in temperatures.
  3. Don’t consistently override your pre-programmed settings because you could end up using more energy.
  4. Reduce the heating or cooling 60 minutes before going to sleep at night, and increase it 30 minutes before you expect to wake up.
  5. Set your “hold” or “vacation” setting at a constant, efficient temperature whenever you’ll be away for more than two days.
  6. Change batteries yearly to avoid any interruptions to your program.

Now that you’ve learned how much you can save, and picked up some programming pointers, you’re probably ready for a programmable thermostat. We’ve put together an electricity plan that gives you one for free. Plus, you’ll be shrinking your carbon footprint by using 100% clean energy.

Our Pollution FreeTM with Google Nest Learning Thermostat plan lets you power your home with 100% clean wind energy and score a complimentary Google Nest Learning Thermostat and a Google Nest Temperature Sensor. You can save energy, live comfortably and help the environment. What are you waiting for?

Find a renewable energy plan that helps your home go green.

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Our customers have avoided


pounds of CO2

That’s like planting


new trees.