Intelligent Energy

Which states keep their thermostats higher?

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Startup EnergyHub made a startling discovery when it pulled data from the 100,000 thermostats connected to its management software.

On a recent winter morning, which households do you think set the heating temperature of their thermostats the highest? Folks living in snow-covered homes in Vermont or those living in the comparatively balmy state of Texas?

Startup EnergyHub examined data from more than 100,000 thermostats running on its management software platform Mercury and made a surprising discovery.  Generally, residents in states with cooler average temperatures set their thermostats lower than those living in warmer states. In Vermont, the average Tuesday morning heating temperature (known as a setpoint) was 63.4 degrees F. In Texas, it was 69.9 degrees F.

The correlation between thermostat settings and geographic location played out in other states as well. States in cold regions including Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont all had lower setpoints than warmer climate states such as Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas and Oklahoma.

EnergyHub made this discovery using just a small sample of the more than five billion data points that come out of those 100,000 connected thermostats every month. In other words, there's plenty more opportunity and data to EnergyHub insights into how folks are using energy.

Why are Vermonters such energy misers? If you've ever lived in cold regions of the country, you know why. Monthly energy bills jump in the winter. It only takes one outrageously high heating bill to motivate folks to grab a sweater before cranking up that thermostat.

EnergyHub found that by Vermonters setting their thermostats at 63.4 degrees F versus the Texas setting of 69.9 degrees F, residents are seeing a nearly 20 percent reduction in their heating costs. That translates to $500 per home per year in savings, according to an analysis of Vermont household energy expenditures in 2007.

The savings wouldn't be as large for Texans, even if they turned their thermostats lower in the winter. That's because Vermont has an average of 7,746 heating degree days per year, while Texas has only 1,862.

Texans and folks in other warm weather regions will get their big energy savings chance this summer when the roles reverse.

Photo: Flickr user striatic, CC 2.0

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Kirsten Korosec

Contributing Editor

Kirsten Korosec has written for Technology Review, Marketing News, The Hill, BNET and Bloomberg News. She holds a degree from Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism. She is based in Tucson, Arizona. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure