I'm still on the fence about this one.
What I know I don't want to do, is I don't want to manually adjust the thermastat every time I leave for work and every time I walk in at night. I don't want to wait for the apartment to warm up in the evening. I certainly don't want to adjust it down at night because I REALLY DON'T want to wake up in a cold apartment in the morning.
In three of the last four homes I owned (not counting ex-husbands where he insisted on wood heat) - I installed a programmable thermastat. I love these things.
You can program them for weekday and weekend settings. You can set the warm up time to be about thirty minutes before you usually get up in the morning and before you get home at the end of the day. You can set the cool down time to about the time you leave in the morning and about a half hour after bedtime. If you find yourself at home during one of the cooler times? You can simply set the over-ride and it'll return to the warmer setting until the next time it's set to cool down again.
What I like about these is that once they are installed and set up, you really only have to mess with them a little with each change of the season. And from then on, they just automatically save you money. PLUS you aren't sitting in your own home freezing to death (note: horrendous flashback to wood heat days).
Why haven't I done it yet?
Because I live in an apartment building. It's not my home. Also, I don't pay that incredible much to heat my home. It's about 1000 square feet and even being on the first floor? We really only have trouble heating the apartment when the wind comes in from the South (see future post on insulating windows). I'm on budget billing and spend around $70/month which includes heating, air conditioning and all electrical. I know there are lots of folks out there who dream about spending that little on heating. So it hasn't been a high priority for me to focus on it.
However, I might still do it anyway.
a) If I keep good track of the thermastat I'm replacing - I can always put the old one back on before I move out.
b) I've installed three of them already, installing a fourth one has little to no risk that I'll mess up
c) Worst case, if I can't find the old thermastat - these new ones are really reasonably priced - it's not like I couldn't leave the programmable thermastat for the next tenants
d) It really is wasted energy and money
e) The benefit will show up in the repeated monthly expenses... I can expect to recoup the cost of a basic thermastat ($40) in savings within the first winter I replace it. Albeit - on budget billing I won't see the difference on my bill admittedly, but it will show up when they recalculate the billing again which they do on a fairly regular basis. It will show further benefits in summer when I can set it to slightly warmer temps during the day and night.
I could get in trouble with the apartment maintenance and/or manager. Honestly not too worried about this one. They only come in about twice a year to replace furnace filters. They don't seem to be all that focused on the apartment nor on what's going on around the complex. They come in, they do what they gotta do... they leave. My risk of messing something up is pretty low as these things are really easy to install. As it is, the worst they can do is ask me to leave (I could put the old thermastat back in instead) and keep my deposit. I can guarantee I won't be seeing my deposit back as it is when I do leave.