Navigating the New World of Thermostats
Is It Time to Trade in That Classic Round Model?
As one consumer so aptly puts it: today’s thermostats are either Stone Age devices without features, programmable but hard to install and use, or so technologically advanced that they make their own decisions. That’s a slight exaggeration, but there are so many choices available today—digital, nondigital, programmable, and nonprogrammable—that it’s easy to become confused over which type will work best for you. How do you go about finding the right mix of easy-to-use features and emerging technology?
Gross Heating & Air Conditioning, a Carrier Factory Authorized Dealer, offers a few tips on finding the best thermostat for your home, budget, and lifestyle needs:
- Manual thermostats have simple controls but limited energy savings. Manual thermostats are ideal for people who aren’t particularly technically savvy and prefer to control the thermostat themselves. To save on energy costs, thermostats can be adjusted five to eight degrees (up in summer, down in winter) daily if a home will be unoccupied for several hours.
- Electronic programmable thermostats are an important way to save energy. Today, most people use programmable thermostats because they’re far more accurate. When they’re professionally installed by a certified HVAC contractor like Gross Heating and used properly, programmable thermostats can save on energy costs. Unfortunately, up to 70 percent of people with these types of thermostats don’t use the features. Be sure you understand the programming features and the expense and effort of having one installed.
- Look for products that offer intuitive, easy-to-use controls. ENERGY STAR® actually stopped certifying programmable thermostats in 2009 in part because they were so difficult for consumers to use. Today, more and more manufacturers are adding brighter, intuitive touchscreens and displays to their programmable thermostats.
- Not all thermostats will work with your heating and cooling system. Your existing setup will determine what type of thermostat you can have. Professionals can help determine compatibility by taking a look at your current thermostat and the power source to your system. With complicated zoned systems or multi-stage systems, it’s especially important to rely on a technician’s expertise.
- Before you consider a smart thermostat, decide exactly why you want one. Do you want a thermostat to “learn” from your heating and cooling habits to program itself? Do you want to control the climate in your home remotely from a tablet or smartphone? Do you want to see how much energy is being consumed in real time? If you don’t need a smart thermostat for these particular reasons, let a professional guide you in finding a thermostat that will better match your needs.