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The Good, The Bad and The Ugly of Programmable Thermostats

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly of Programmable Thermostats

As technology improves, many homeowners are making the decision to invest in a programmable thermostat. While manual thermostats are easy to operate, they do have several drawbacks, such as issues with accuracy and the inability to automatically perform temperature changes. Digital thermostats offer more precise temperature control, more programming options and the newer models feature “smart” technology that allows you to make temperature adjustments over your Wi-Fi network. 

There’s no doubt that programmable thermostats save money, which is crucial as energy costs continue to soar. However, while they are an efficient way to save on energy expenses, they aren’t a perfect solution for everyone. 

General Thermostat Operation

The one main disadvantage of a manual thermostat is that your home may be too chilly or warm during the morning and evening times. By using a programmable thermostat, you can set it to 78°F in the summer months only when you are present and need cooling, and program the thermostat to 68°F in the winter only when you're home and awake can help decrease energy bills. The benefits of installing a programmable thermostat include:

  • Energy savings throughout the year
  • Increased indoor comfort levels
  • More flexibility with programming

Drawbacks of installing a programmable thermostat include:

  • Initial investment cost
  • Complexity of programming
  • Savings depends on correct use

Types of Programmable Thermostats

There are five types of programmable thermostats:

Electromechanical: Electromechanical (EM) thermostats have manual controls set to a rotary timer and are easy to operate. They are compatible with most conventional heating and cooling systems, other than heat pumps, but offer limited programming flexibility.   

Digital:  Digital thermostats feature LCD or LED digital functions with buttons or data entry pads. They work with most heating and cooling systems and offer a wide range of features and schedule flexibility, though the programming can be complicated.

The one main disadvantage of a manual thermostat is that your home may be too chilly or warm during the morning and evening times.

Hybrid: Combining manual knobs and slides with the technology of digital controls, hybrid systems are easy to use, flexible and are available for most systems.

Occupancy: If your spaces are unoccupied for long periods of time, an occupancy thermostat might be the best option. An occupancy thermostat maintains the preset temperature selection until someone turns on the heating or cooling for a specified length of time.

Light Sensing: A light sensing thermostat react to preset lighting levels to activate the heating or cooling system. They are designed primarily for offices and stores where the occupancy determines the lighting and heating requirements.

Smart Thermostat Pros

If you want more than a programmable thermostat, you can enjoy the high-tech features of a smart thermostat. In addition to being able to control your home's temperature remotely, there are multiple reasons you might want to upgrade to a smart thermostat:

  • They are easy to install. If you don't feel comfortable installing it in your building, an HVAC technician can assist you.
  • You’ll save money. The initial investment usually pays off in energy savings within a couple years of your purchase. After that, the savings go right in your pocket.
  • You’ll know exactly how much energy you are using or saving throughout the month, unlike once-monthly utility bills.
  • You can access your climate control system from anywhere via your smart phone, tablet, laptop or computer.

Smart Thermostat Cons

While a conventional non-programmable thermostat can be very affordable, and most programmable digital models won’t run more than $50, at a typical $150-$300 price tag, smart thermostats certainly aren’t cheap. There are other considerations that might indicate that a smart thermostat isn’t the best option for you, such as:

  • Your HVAC system isn’t compatible with a smart thermostat. Check manufacturer websites to determine if your HVAC will work with a specific model.
  • You plan on moving. Installing a smart thermostat can cost a lot of money, which you aren't willing to spend while living in an apartment or before you move.
  • The thought of teaching technology frustrates or annoys you. Your smart thermostat will require programming input from you during the first week in order to learn your schedule. There will be a learning curve at first as you learn how your unit works.
  • Smart technology creeps you out. For example, Google owns one of the most popular smart thermostat lines, Nest. You may not feel comfortable with Google knowing when you are home or away.

Can't decide between a manual, programmable or smart thermostat? Contact us today at Guaranteed Services to learn more about the available options.

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