No matter how beautifully decorated your dining room, how soft the pillows, or how ergonomic your office chair – when your home isn’t at an ideal temperature, you’re uncomfortable. A thermostat controls the temperature of your home by sensing the air temperature and running either the heating or cooling system until your ideal temperature has been reached.
Costing anywhere from $30 – $250, your thermostat can come equipped with just the most basic functions, or it can offer additional sophisticated features that can add to the efficiency and convenience of your appliance – not to mention your family’s ultimate comfort. This guide will help you understand common thermostat types, programming options, features, and how to find a thermostat compatible with your home’s HVAC system.
Which Type of Thermostat is For You?
Manual thermostats offer two great thing: simplicity and low cost. The only functions to learn on these easy-to-understand models are setting the temperature and adjusting it up or down. The only negative aspect of manual, non-programmable thermostats is that because they’re usually set at a fixed temperature, they are less energy efficient and can cause your monthly heating and cooling bill to be higher than when programmable thermostats are used.
Manual thermostats are best used in homes in which people are often present and like to keep a room at a fixed temperature.
Digital thermostats can be programmed to automatically adjust your home’s temperature throughout the day. These sophisticated systems are more widely installed in homes today, as they are more energy efficient and can lessen the cost of heating and cooling your home. You can save up to 30% on your heating bill, and up to 25% on cooling, which is a huge benefit to most homes.
Some digital thermostats even have the ability to “learn” your preferred settings, and can shut off while you’re away from home. Learning devices and some digital thermostats can be conveniently controlled by your home wi-fi and accessed from a phone or tablet.
Customizing your Digital Thermostat
Various programming options are offered on digital thermostats, so that you can customize it to suit your family’s schedule. The following programs are featured on most digital thermostats:
|1-Week Programming||The same setting for every day of the week|
|5-2 Programming||Two separate settings, one for the workweek, and one for the weekend|
|5-1-1 Programming||Three separate settings, one for the workweek, one for Saturday, and one for Sunday|
|7-Day Programming||Seven separate settings, one for each day of the week|
It’s important to ensure that your thermostat is compatible with your HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) system. The most common system today is central heat, or central heat and air, while other systems might include floor/wall furnace, heat pump, electric and/or fireplace. Here are some terms that may be helpful in determining what type you need.
Zoned HVAC – One HVAC unit that heats and cools separate areas of the home
1-Stage Heat or Cool – For separate heating and cooling systems
2-Stage Heat or Cool – For heating and cooling systems that have a high and low speed
24mV – For use with wall or floor furnaces, or a fireplace
Direct Line Voltage – For 110V or 240V direct current power source (used in older homes)
Thermostats may offer upgraded versions that offer additional features. Here is a list of those features to help you make an informed decision.
- Adjustable Cycle: Prevents on/off cycling so that heating and cooling can be turned on anytime during the day
- Auto Changeover: Allows you to automatically switch between heating and cooling
- Onscreen Prompts/Intuitive Controls: Concise and easy-to-understand prompts, takes up less energy and assists in programming
- Backlit Display: Illuminated screen for easy programming in the dark or low-lit environments
- Touch Screen Controls: Touch-sensitive display
- Battery Operation and Full Memory Save: Great for older homes that don’t have the correct wiring for a digital thermostat. For newer homes, this option is used to save programming in the event of a power outage
- Vacation Mode: Allows you to temporarily change your settings to the most energy efficient option while you are away, and can be easily changed back with the push of a button
- Remote Programming: Using radio frequencies, thermostat settings can be changed from anywhere in the house with a remote control
- Removable Interface: Can be removed and taken to other locations in the house
- Filter Change Reminder: Reminds you when your AC or furnace filter needs to be changed
- Keyboard Lock: Hitting buttons will not change settings until unlocked – great for households with children