A thermostat can seem like a tiny insignificant part of your home, but having the right thermostat can make your home more comfortable while saving you both time and money in the process. While most of us may just think of a simple dial, thermostats have come along way, and some now offer advanced features that can drastically lower your energy bill.
What types of thermostats are out there?
There are several different types of thermometers to match your unique needs. They all work with heating, cooling, or a combined system.
Manual Analog Thermostat
These are what most of us picture when we think of a thermostat. They are simple and cheap, using mercury to measure the temperature in the room. You use a knob or dial to set your desired temperature. When the temperature goes above or below this number it will turn on the furnace or air conditioning (depending on if it is set to heating or cooling). While these thermostats are simple and cheap, they have several drawbacks. First, they try and keep the heat at a constant temperature, which is inefficient, and doesn’t allow for additional customization. Second, manual thermostats are somewhat inaccurate, often having being as much as five degrees off. Additionally, on most models you are required to switch between heating and cooling, making it more complicated to use in climates where AC may be needed in the day, but heat is needed at night.
These are the digital version of the manual thermostat. They operate in the same way, but add a digital display allowing for more precise temperature adjustments. These thermostats are still extremely cheap, and offer much greater accuracy than analogue manual thermostats. However, they still don’t offer much flexibility or customization, nor do they have any programmable features to increase efficiency and manage energy costs. These drawbacks aside, they are still a great budget-focused option.
Digital Programmable Thermostat
These thermostats offer programmable settings that allow for greater flexibility and efficiency. These thermostats generally vary in price depending on the number of possible programmable “days”. The simplest ones just let you make one single program which allows different temperatures for different times of the day. The more complex systems can hold up to 7 different programs, allowing for a seperate temperature schedule to be made for each day of the week, ensuring that your home is always the temperature you want. Programmable thermostats are a little more expensive, but they are accurate and more efficient, allowing you to save energy and money by lowering your home’s temperature at night or while no one is home. For many, the cost of a programmable thermostat will quickly be recouped through energy savings.
Smart thermostats have all the functionality of digital programmable thermostats, but add the ability to connect to your cell phone and other smart devices via WiFi. These thermostats let you use your phone to set more complex temperature schedules, find the current temperature, or raise/lower the temperature from anywhere in the world at any time. Many of these devices can also connect to other smart technology like Amazon Alexa or Google Home, allowing you to use voice commands to change the temperature. Smart Thermostats have all the benefits of programmable thermostats with added functionality. However, all these features come with a high upfront cost.
How do I know what type is best for me?
Picking the right thermostat all depends on your lifestyle and needs, as well as the schedules of everyone in your home.
To start with, smart thermostats are great if you have a smart home device ecosystem that you routinely use. But for most people this isn’t the case, and the features don’t offer much if you aren’t already using Amazon Alexa or Google Home. In these cases they simple aren’t worth the high upfront cost, often running into the hundreds.
Digital programmable thermostats are perfect for most people. If you and your family have a relatively regular schedule (such as consistent work and/or school schedules where the house is empty in the afternoon most days), they can help save you money and increase the comfort of your home by lowering the temperature at night or while you are away. However, this programmability isn’t helpful if your schedule is constantly changing, as you will either have to constantly manually set the thermostat, or risk coming home to a cold home.
Digital manual thermostats are the perfect budget option, and the go-to choice for people with chaotic schedules. These thermostats are so cheap that analogue thermostats no longer are worth installing, making this the value choice.
When should someone replace their thermostat?
If your thermostat is broken, or you are simply unhappy with the features your current thermostat has, its time!
And even if you haven’t already considered it, if you have a regular schedule you can quickly recoup the initial investment for a programmable thermostat. By lowering the heat during hours when the house is empty or everyone is sleeping, you can save a significant percentage on your electricity bill without ever noticing a difference.
Whatever model you choose, we at Paragon Home Comfort Solutions would love to help you.