Is It Time to Upgrade Your Thermostat?
September 8, 2020
Now that the high temperatures of summer heat are starting to dwindle down, it may be time to start thinking about the energy-saving benefits you can get from a digital thermostat. Modern thermostats, including smart thermostats, make it easy for you to manage and monitor your energy use while keeping your home a comfortable temperature.
Since there are tons of options on the market, it can be difficult to know which one to choose. At Precision Air & Plumbing, we’re happy to help you sort through what’s available and install the right one for you.
What Is a Digital Thermostat?
An old-school analog thermostat didn’t have a display you could easily read. Instead, these models had a lever or dial that you could move to the temperature you wanted. If you don’t have one, you might see them in older houses or motels. Their benefit is that they are supremely easy to use and last basically forever. On the downside, some of them have mercury inside to determine the temperature. If it breaks, you’ve got a health hazard on your hands.
Digital versions have a different kind of sensor to determine the temperature and trigger the operation of the air conditioner, heat pump, or furnace. They use batteries to show you the current temperature in a digital format. Some options are manual, which means you have to approach the thermostat and push the buttons every time you want to change the current temperature. Others are programmable.
How Does a Digital Thermostat Compare to Programmable Thermostats?
Most modern thermostats are digital, especially those designed for the home. Of these options, most are also programmable. It works much like any other timer or alarm setting. With a programmable thermostat, you can create a series of settings during specific time periods. Instead of having to turn down the temperature after you get home from work, you can schedule it to start cooling before you arrive.
The amount of settings you get depends on the product. Most products will give you at least a few settings for each day. Some will add a weekday/weekend program since you might have different needs on those days. For the most part, the temperature you set, and the time you would like it to go off is up to you. That’s an important factor in the amount of energy-saving advantages you’ll get when you use it.
What Are the Energy Saving Functions of a Digital or Programmable Thermostat?
You’ve probably heard from friends or family members who got a programmable thermostat and didn’t save a ton on their utility bills. There’s a simple answer to this, and it is that most people don’t know how to use them. A programmable thermostat isn’t going to save you a lot of energy if you keep adjusting the settings as if it were manual. Similarly, homeowners who set the temperature to 65 when it’s 115 outside will pay more than people who set it to 78.
Knowing how to use a thermostat to your benefit is how it pays off. For example, most electric companies have peak and off-peak hours. These document the times that electricity is most in use and more expensive versus those periods that electricity costs less. It may be worth the time, money, and effort to change a manual thermostat with a programmable one. Taking advantage of off-peak pricing for your energy usage can allow for a decrease in your monthly bill.
How Do Smart Thermostats Work?
Smart thermostats are similar to programmable ones, but they take it to the next level. With a typical programmable thermostat, you can create settings and watch the system operate without your regular input. If you want to know how your energy use is changing, though, you have to watch your meter or wait for your bill. Smart thermostats offer more options for use and monitoring in real-time. This means that a smart thermostat may be able to:
- Create settings based on the way you use it
- Allow you to change settings from your smartphone or other devices
- Provide updates and reports about your usage
To do this, the thermostat usually needs to connect to your Wi-Fi. This might require an additional wire. Most homes’ electrical systems can support it. If you have an older home or your wiring is particularly outdated, you might need to add more or upgrade.
Which Thermostats Are Best for Homeowners?
At Precision Air & Plumbing, we believe that the best thermostat for you is the one you can use to keep yourself and your family the most comfortable in any season. That’s going to depend quite a bit on your personal preferences. Are you someone who loves to know more about their energy consumption? Try a smart thermostat. Do you prefer something that is easy to set and forget, that you won’t forget how to use? We can help you find a programmable option that meets your needs.
Keep in mind that the way you use the thermostat accounts for at least part of how well it works for you. If you keep trying to create settings that don’t suit your life, you’re going to end up manually adjusting it all the time. Be realistic about what you’re willing to do, and you’ll get the best investment.
Is a Digital Thermostat Easy to Install?
If you get five homeowners in a room and ask them if a thermostat is easy to install, you’ll get five different answers. For some people, this is an effortless task that takes a few minutes. For others, it’s an onerous job that they would much rather leave to someone else. This depends on the type of thermostat, too. If you’re buying smart thermostats with all the bells and whistles, you’ll need more time and focus to get it hooked up and everything working properly.
You’ll typically need a thermostat when you buy new AC units. Otherwise, feel free to talk to us during a scheduled AC Tune-Up. We’re happy to talk to you about what’s available for your home and set a time to hook it up.