Programmable thermostats are amazing inventions. We have a new one in my house that was put in just before I moved it. It is one of the simplest ones out there, but it works. Why are they great inventions? They can save you tons of money. The highest utility cost in this house is gas. Our central heating system uses natural gas, as most do.
Programing your thermostat can save you costs on heat. If you are not home, you don't need to keep the house warm! If you are asleep, put on extra blankets and turn down the temperate a few degrees. Here is how an optimal setting might look (this would be for the average 9-5 work schedule).
Wake (6:45am) – 69 degrees
Leave (7:45am) – 65 degrees
Return (4:45pm) – 68 degrees
Sleep (11:45pm) – 67 degrees
Wake (8:30am) – 68 degrees
Leave (12:00pm) – 67 degrees
Return (4:00pm) – 68 degrees
Sleep (12:30am) – 67 degrees
I have had several roommates who did not understand how thermostats work, so here is a short lesson. Whatever you set the temperature to (for heat) is where the temperature will be. Turning it up to 80 does not mean it will get warmer quicker. Your heater has two modes, on and off. If it is below the target temperature, the heat will turn on. If it is at or above, the heat will be off. Simple, I know, but some people do not get it.
This trick is twofold. First, it saves you a bunch of money. Second, it saves the environment. Win-Win! If you don't have a programmable thermostat, it might be worth the small investment. If you do have one, really use it.