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When it comes to staying warm, at what point can you be comfortable and still save money on energy bills throughout the winter?

We’ll discuss how you can help yourself stay as energy-efficient as possible while staying comfortable and warm. All of which only involve your thermostat. In this blog, we’ll go over the following:

  • Optimal Thermostat Settings During Winter
  • Best Thermostat Location
  • Using Programmable Thermostats

Need to schedule HVAC maintenance, or have questions about your AC system and/or your Thermostat? Call AVS Heating and Air Conditioning at (703) 457-9028, or click to use our online scheduling portal to get the service you need now!

Optimal Thermostat Settings During Winter

According to the US Department of Energy, it’s best to keep your thermostat at 68 degrees Fahrenheit for most of the day during the winter season. For maximum efficiency, you should also designate 8 hours per day during which you turn the temperature down by between 7 and 10 degrees. By following this routine, you may be able to reduce your yearly energy costs by up to 10%.

The lowest of Northern Virginia winter temperatures average is around 56° / 35° degrees Fahrenheit. Energy.gov recommends setting back your thermostat about 7 to 10 degrees lower than your desired household temperature for at least 8 hours a day during winter. Applying such a practice to your life can save you as much as 10% on your heating bills.

For example, say your preferred temperature to keep your house warm during winter is 77 degrees. When you’re away from your home or asleep, you can set your thermostat somewhere between 67 and 70 degrees in those inactive hours to be more energy-efficient and cost-efficient.

Setting back your thermostat 7-10 degrees doesn’t take much effort and energy on the part of your furnace system to warm your home back to that desired 77 degrees. And the home won’t lose so much heat during the period that you wake up or come home to an environment colder than comfortable.

The great thing is that this practice can also apply just as effectively in the warmer months, just in the opposite direction (as in, keeping your home 7 to 10 degrees warmer than your desired temperature).

Best Thermostat Location

Keep your thermostat in an efficient location.

It may not seem like the most obvious thing, but the location of your thermostat is critical when making sure your entire heating system operates efficiently.

A thermostat measures air temperature and responds accordingly to change it. If it’s in an area that is regularly exposed to sunlight, an exterior wall or tucked away from the center of your home where airflow and temperature changes naturally occur, you might receive inaccurate readings. When your thermostat cannot accurately measure air temperature, it will use your entire system inefficiently and cost you more money in unnecessary heating expenses.

An HVAC technician can review your thermostat’s current location and tell you if it needs relocation to help you save money.


Knowing the ideal home temperature and using your thermostat correctly won’t matter if you place it in the wrong part of your home. An interior wall, ideally near the center of the house, near the return air vent is the best place for your thermostat.


  • Areas where sun light come directly
  • Locations below or above air vents
  • Kitchens walls
  • Near exterior doors or windows
  • Bathrooms
  • Sunrooms

The four types of heating controls

  • Mechanical room thermostats
  • Digital room thermostats
  • Programmable room thermostats
  • Smart Thermostat.

Using Programmable Thermostats

5 Types of Programmable Thermostats are commonly seen in homes


These units are easy to operate with manual controls and are compatible with most heating and cooling systems:

  • Digital. Digital units hold multiple programs so you can set each day differently.
  • Hybrid
  • Occupancy
  • Light-sensing.

Installing a programmable thermostat can help you better control your desired home’s temperature at different settings on different days of the week.

What should the thermostat schedule be?

During the summer, program your thermostat for 78 degrees when you’re home. During the winter, program it for 68 degrees when you’re home. Program your thermostat to reduce heating or cooling 60 minutes before you go to bed at night and to increase heating or cooling 30 minutes before you get up in the morning.

There are multiple types of programmable thermostats you can purchase and have installed, of which include:

  • 5+2 Day Models: This model provides two different schedule settings to you. One schedule with the same temperature changes from Monday through Friday, and one for Saturday and Sunday. It’s generally the least flexible of all the programmable thermostat models available.
  • 5-1-1 Day Models: While it’s similar to the 5+2 Day model, the 5-1-1 day model changes the temperature settings between Saturday and Sunday.
  • 7 Day Models: You can set a unique temperature schedule for every day of the week.
  • Smart Models: Smart Thermostats like Nest, Lyric, and Ecobee allow you to set and change your temperature settings from your phone, wherever you are. They’re the most flexible of the programmable thermostat options available to you.

Example Temperature Schedule What should thermostat schedule be?

During the summer, program your thermostat for 78 degrees when you’re home. During the winter, program it for 68 degrees when you’re home. Program your thermostat to reduce heating or cooling 60 minutes before you go to bed at night and to increase heating or cooling 30 minutes before you rise each morning.

Scheduling your thermostat’s temperature changes can help you save money.

Here’s an example of a temperature schedule you could implement, whether it be with a programmable thermostat or manually:

  • 6.30 am — Wake up and set the temperature to 68 in winter and 77 degrees in summer.
  • 8 am — Leave for work, setting your temperature to 60 in winter and 80 degrees in summer.
  • 6 pm — Arrive home, with temperatures set to 68 in winter and 77 degrees once more in summer.
  • 10.30 pm — Go to bed; temperatures decrease to 60 in winter and 70 degrees through the summer nights.
  • You may change this to fit your needs to whatever is most comfortable for you this winter or summer.

If you have a programmable thermostat, schedule your temperature changes to start 15-30 minutes before waking up or getting home from work. That way, you aren’t tempted to stay in bed because it’s cold out and you avoid coming back to a chilly home.

Exceptions for Installing Programmable Thermostats

If you have radiant floor heating, you may want to find a thermostat compatible with the system.

It’s important to be aware that different systems require certain capabilities from the thermostats linked to them. Understanding how your heating and cooling systems operate is an essential factor in discerning the type of programmable thermostat to acquire if you’re looking to make that change.

For instance, according to the Department of Energy, it isn’t advisable to use most programmable thermostats if you use a heat pump in winter. Heat pumps operate similarly to a central AC unit by cooling your home, but they can also heat your home.

It’s inefficient to use most programmable thermostats with heat pumps because they can’t handle the demands of setting back the thermostat. Expecting heat pumps to have a quick turnover time in temperature without consuming massive amounts of energy can wear out your heating system, cost you more money, and shorten its lifespan.

Similar issues can arise if your home uses electric resistance, steam, or radiant floor heating.

Thankfully, there are programmable thermostats that are compatible with these more complicated heating systems!

AVS Heating and Air is an award-winning local company ready to help you with your Heating, Air Conditioning, and Ventilation needs.

Speak with an HVAC expert today about replacing your thermostat to fit the needs of your home and schedule. Call AVS Heating and Air Conditioning at (703) 457-9028 in Northern Virginia and (301) 686-7129 in Montgomery and Prince George’s County, Maryland. We’re a highly-rated local company with experienced technicians and excellent customer service. We’ll give you transparent quotes and superior service when you need it.

Make sure to check out the other heating services we provide to improve your at-home experience this winter. You can schedule an appointment with us online, and we’ll give you a call to confirm appointment details as soon as possible.