by Tracey Kline
Swarthmore resident Charles Pell has offered to help neighbors install and program their programmable thermostats.
“Once I figured out how easy they are to use,” Pell said, “I decided to help others.”
Charlie demonstrates his Nest Programmable thermostat. The thermostat can be monitored from a smartphone while you are away from home.
According to EnergyStar.gov, a properly programmed thermostat can save 10-30% on your energy bill. Yet more than 30% of households with programmable thermostats do not use custom or default thermostat programs.
Pell, an engineer, admits that he and his wife Julie had a programmable thermostat for years without knowing how to program it. Committed to sustainability and energy efficiency, he finally perused the Internet and found a programmable thermostat that was both efficient and easy to use: Nest.
“We installed the Nest Thermostat in December 2012,” he says, “and immediately observed our energy bills drop. It took 20 minutes to install, and we got our money back in a year.”
For Pell, the primary advantages of the Nest Thermostat are its simplicity and accessibility. Nest connects to Wi-Fi and can be accessed from your phone, computer, and tablet. “For me, the phone aspect was a requirement,” he says.
According to the Energy Information Administration, energy costs for heating and cooling account for approximately 42% of consumer home energy expenditures. Much of this energy expenditure, however, is used for space conditioning during times that occupants are either not home or sleeping. The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that, among households using thermostats for heating, 49% do not have someone home during the day. During the winter, only 42% report turning the heat down and only 2% completely turn off the heat.
Simply installing a programmable thermostat can substantially reduce this needless energy expenditure – decreasing energy bills as well as your environmental impact.
Working professionals and parents of teenage daughters, the Pells recognize the difficulty of reconciling environmental consciousness with hectic schedules. In a perfect world they would love to have as little impact on the environment as possible. Pell recently purchased a diesel car, but admits, “Our lifestyles just aren’t conducive to driving less. A programmable thermostat is our most practical means of cutting energy consumption.”
Tracey Kline is a student at Boston College and a former intern at aFewSteps.org.