A thermostat is an important device for home comfort. It’s the brain behind your heating and cooling system, the panel through which you control the temperature in your home. Whether you’re upgrading your HVAC equipment or you simply want more control over home comfort and energy savings, it’s worthwhile to invest in a programmable thermostat.
How Does a Programmable Thermostat Work?
The biggest difference between a basic thermostat and a programmable model is the ability to program automatic setbacks. To save energy with a basic thermostat, you must remember to turn the temperature down when you leave for work in the morning or climb into bed at night. A downside to saving energy in this way is that you return home or wake up to an uncomfortable environment. You must manually change the temperature and wait until the air conditioner or furnace reaches the desired temperature. Plus, like a lot of people, you might just forget to adjust the thermostat.
With a programmable thermostat, you program setback and recovery periods based on your schedule. That way, you save energy while you’re away or sleeping, and the program automatically resumes a comfortable temperature before you come home or wake up. It’s the best of both worlds: energy savings in your absence and no sacrifice in comfort when you get home.
Also keep in mind that you always have the ability to override a setting if you are uncomfortable. This feature ensures you never feel stuck with a temperature that is too hot or too cold simply because the thermostat is programmed a certain way.
The number of setback periods available varies based on the exact model you choose. Most programmable thermostats today let you program four temperature settings in a 24-hour period. For example, you might program a morning temperature while you’re at home, a daytime temperature when the house is empty, an evening temperature when you’re back at home, and a nighttime temperature while you sleep.
The major difference between available models is the number of programs you can create in a week. To help you decide which model is right for you, consider your schedule and how it varies from day to day. Work, school and other activities dictate when you’re at home and when you’re away.
Programmable thermostat options include:
- 5+2-day model: This is the most basic programmable thermostat available. It allows you to program a different schedule for weekdays and the weekend.
- 5-1-1 model: For a little more flexibility, you may opt for this model, which programs every weekday the same and allows for a different schedule on Saturday and Sunday.
- 7-day model: This is the most flexible option, ideal if your schedule is different every day of the week
Advanced Features to Look For
In general, every programmable thermostat boasts the ability to keep the indoor temperature within two degrees of the programmed setting. In addition to this feature, look for other advanced offerings that help you get the most out of your investment:
- Digital backlit display to make nighttime temperature overrides easier
- Touch screen to make navigation a breeze
- Vacation hold feature so you can set the thermostat to a different temperature than usual for a prolonged period of time, such as while you’re out of town
- Filter change indicator to remind you that it’s time to change the air filter
- Malfunction indicator so you know when to call in a professional to make a repair
- Adaptive recovery, an important control feature if you have a heat pump
- Voice programming so you can make temperature changes with the futuristic method of simply saying your desire to the thermostat
- WiFi connectivity for remote access, an advanced feature that upgrades the device to a “Smart” programmable thermostat
Tips for Getting the Most from a Programmable Thermostat
You can expect the most energy savings possible if you follow certain guidelines for using the device:
- Program setback periods for the longest time possible to see greater energy savings.
- Use the “temporary hold” setting sparingly. Every time you override a setting, you pay a little more to heat or cool your home.
- Remember to use the “vacation hold” setting when you go out of town.
- Avoid cranking the temperature way up or down when you’re uncomfortable. Put on or take off a layer, then alter the thermostat by one or two degrees.
- Consider installing multiple thermostats for zoned heating and cooling.
For more information about choosing a programmable thermostat that works with your HVAC equipment, please contact us at Ray & Son Heating & Air Conditioning. We proudly serve South Georgia and North Florida residents.
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