Thermostat Settings

Energy-saving benefits

  • For your heating bills: Setting back your thermostat can save you money during the heating season. Bigger setbacks save even more.
  • For your air-conditioning bills: If we all reduce our air conditioner use by 10% this summer, we could save enough electricity for 2,400 homes.
  • For our community: If we all set back our thermostats by 1° this winter, we could save enough gas for 4,600 homes.

Heating fiction and facts

Fiction: It costs as much or more to heat a home back up after a setback. (Or to cool the house after a summer setup.)

Fact: For a gas-fired furnace or boiler, the longer your house remains at the lower temperature, the more heat you save. If you have a heat pump or radiant floor heating, setbacks are not recommended.

Fiction: The house will warm up faster the higher the thermostat is raised.

Fact: The thermostat isn't like the gas pedal on a car. It's either calling for heat or not, so setting the thermostat too high may cause you to overshoot the desired temperature.

Fiction: The kids will kick off the covers and get cold.

Fact: Children older than about two weeks can regulate their body temperature just like adults, so they don't need different temperature settings. If they kick off the covers, try using a sleeping bag.

The more you set back, the more you save

Set back 8 hours per day 16 hours per day 24 hours per day
5% 10% 15%
7% 14% 21%
11°* 11% 22% 33%
13°* 13% 26% 39%

*Before setting back, follow this advice:

  • Check with your doctor if you have a medical condition that requires different temperatures.
  • Check the owner's manual for your heating system to see if there is a recommended minimum temperature.
  • If you have had problems with pipes freezing during extremely cold weather, correct the problem before setting back.

Recommended thermostat settings

  Winter Summer
When you are home: 68°* 78°
When you're not at home: 60°* 85°
When you're sleeping: 60°* 78°

*Or as low as health permits. Check the owner's manual for recommended temperature settings and if turning down the temperature for more than 24 hours.

Manual setback

You can get the same savings adjusting the thermostat by hand, it's just less convenient. You may forget to change the temperature at bedtime or when leaving the house. Some people don't like waiting for the house to warm up after turning up the heat.

Programmable (automatic setback) and smart thermostats:

  • Offer comfort and convenience.
  • Turn on the heat before you get out of bed in the morning or before you come home in the evening.
  • Never forget to change the temperature.

Where to buy

For do-it-yourself installation:

Typical prices range from $30 to $250.

Recycling old thermostats

To help reclaim and recycle mercury, we offer customers a thermostat-recycling program. Call (608) 252-1577 to set up a time to drop off your old thermostat at 623 Railroad St. in Madison. We'll make sure it is recycled appropriately.

Special heating systems

Heat pumps, electric heaters and boilers may require special thermostats. Check for compatibility first.

For more information