Tip #2: Turn your thermostat down 3 degrees
November 02nd, 2008 - 106 Comments
This is Tip #2 of the 30 Day Challenge to save $1,000.
Today’s tip is to reduce your thermostat 3 degrees colder starting right now. Below, I’ll show you some additional math / tips to show you the effect this will have on your finances.
This year, the Energy Information Administration projects that Americans will pay about 15% more in their heating bills this winter, because of colder weather and higher fuel costs.
How much will you save?
“The rule of thumb is that you can save about 3% on your heating bill for every degree that you set back your thermostat” full time, says Bill Prindle, deputy director for the nonprofit American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy.
To keep the math easy, let’s assume we can save 10% by cutting 3-4 degrees off the thermostat. Here are some sample savings. Note: The actual numbers for the heating bills were obtained very un-scientifically (too many variables to consider).
San Francisco: $10 off a $100 bill
Chicago: $20 off a $200 bill
New York: $15 off a $150 bill
Phoenix: You may not have a heating bill to save on… during the day will still probably be using your A/C. The same rules apply in this case, just in reverse. $10 off a $100 bill.
How to make this tip actually work
I can already hear the sighs of a thousand people: “But Ramit,” you might say, “I already know about this.” Then why don’t people do it?
Because (1) it’s not sexy and novel, and (2) it only takes one cold day after work when you come home and say, “Forget it, I’m turning the heat up today.” And once you adjust your thermostat up, it never goes back down again.
The trick is this: First, turn your thermostat way down when you go to work. That’s free money. Second, think about what causes you to turn the heat up. When you come home from work, the first thing you notice is probably how cold it is – and it’s just natural to walk over to the heater and turn the heat way up. Avoid this: Sure, turn up the heat to a reasonable temperature, but instead of blasting it at 75 degrees, keep warm slippers, a blanket, and a hat somewhere convenient right when you come home. Just put them right near the door. No more thinking – it’s just a natural part of coming home and putting your bag down. (Read more about barriers here.)
I’m doing this at my house. As soon as I come home, there are slippers and a sweatshirt right near the door.
Bonus reading about thermostats
I know, I know, what could be more exciting? Check out this page on Madison Gas and Electric for some common myths about your thermostat.
Last thing to do
Leave a comment on this post describing how much you’re saving with this tip. Each day, I’ll ask you to post how much you’ve saved cumulatively. Use this as a way to track your own progress (it will also encourage others to join)
If you liked this tip, check out my Premium tips — one long, tactical tip per week. Save money or get a 100% refund.
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