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Saving Energy the Easy Way: An Analysis of Thermostat Management

Publication Type:

Journal Article


Energy Efficiency: Perspectives on Individual Behavior, p.121-134 (1987)



energy efficiency


We analyzed data on self-reported winter and summer thermostat settings and control strategies that were collected in recent surveys by utility companies, and state and federal energy agencies.^We constructed several hypotheses to examine how thermostat management was related to the following occupant-related features: socioeconomic characteristics of occupants (age, education, income, home ownership, and race), building characteristics (house type, size, and age), space conditioning fuel and system, climate, and energy audit programs.^We also examined thermostat management over time (during the day, seasonally, and yearly) and analyzed its relationship to energy use.^We found that thermostat management (especially during the summer) is not fixed, but varies and is sensitive to some conditions.^Certain groups - younger people, better educated individuals, audited households, multi-family households, and residents of warmer climates - reduce energy use at a greater rate than their counterparts.^Households lower and raise their thermostats during the day and during different seasons and also shut off their heating and air conditioning systems when their home is unoccupied.^In fact, many households reported settings below 68/sup 0/ in the winter and above 78/sup 0/ in the summer, the standard temperatures used in many energy models and programs.