Thermostat on a wall
(Photo credit: midnightcomm / Flickr)

Set it and forget it. That’s how most people manage their home thermostats. But a different approach can save a lot of energy.

Jodi Smits Anderson is with the Dormitory Authority of the State of New York, a public building agency. At its headquarters, the agency reduced energy use by 40%. Anderson says one effective strategy was to better manage the heating and cooling systems.

“The building used to be 73 degrees day-in, day-out, and the systems were always trying to get us to exactly 73 degrees no matter what Mother Nature was doing outside,” she says.

But now the temperature’s allowed to go as low as 68 in winter and up to 78 in summer.

“We also changed our dress codes, telling people that they are responsible to some extent for their own comfort within that range,” Anderson says. “Wear summer clothes in the summer, and wear your grandma’s winter sweater in the winter. Enjoy that.”

She says people can replicate the approach at home.

“It’s basic logical common sense, but we have worked very hard to tell ourselves that the world should respond to what we want, when we want it, in the moment we want,” she says. “The world doesn’t work that way, so it’s a retooling of our own understanding. We need to work with our buildings.”

Doing so can benefit your wallet and the climate.

Reporting credit: Ariel Hansen/ChavoBart Digital Media.