9 Benefits of Programmable Thermostats
If you want to save money on your monthly energy bills without sacrificing your comfort, consider programmable thermostats. These devices have a proven track record for reducing energy bills effortlessly. Current models offer features that range from keeping track of your daily schedule to allowing remote operation and alerting you when your heating or cooling system needs attention.
9 benefits of programmable thermostats:
- Lower energy bills. Regardless of the type of programmable thermostat you choose, you will save energy on your cooling and heating bills if you program and use the thermostat correctly. Keeping your home at the same temperature when it's not occupied takes a good deal more energy than adjusting it for your absences or when you're sleeping. HVAC systems can cool or heat your home to your comfort level before you return or rise in the mornings.
- Automatic temperature adjustments. Remembering to adjust your thermostat day and night adds another task to your schedule and it's easy to forget. Having a device that does it for you automatically simplifies your life while cutting your energy consumption.
If you use a heat pump for some or all of your home's heating during the winter, an intelligent recovery thermostat will help you save energy during the winter. Heat pumps require special programmable thermostats to avoid having the supplemental heating coil turn on, which uses far more energy than the heat pump does to warm your home.
This coil uses one watt of electricity to create one watt of heat. The pump, on the other hand, can create three or more watts of heat from one watt of energy. The intelligent recovery thermostat blocks this coil from turning on whenever the temperature inside is two degrees lower than the thermostat's setting.
Turning the thermostat down at night will trigger the coil, increasing heating costs. This special heat pump thermostat saves energy because it overrides the coil and turns the pump on throughout the night whenever temperatures get too low for the heat pump to recover without using the coil.
- Flexible scheduling. You can choose among three different types of programmable thermostats that can be adjusted to your schedule. The first kind is the 7-day thermostat, good for households where occupants have different schedules every day. The next type is the 5-2 model, which has settings for the work week and a separate one for the weekend. The last kind is the 5-1-1 model, ideal for families who have the same weekday schedule and a different schedule for each weekend day.
- Control temperature remotely. If you choose a WiFi thermostat or a smart model, you can change the temperature from a smart-phone or anywhere you have online access. This feature lets you change the temperature remotely whenever you need to override the system.
- Lock tempertature settings. Some smart programmable thermostats allow you to lock the settings so that someone coming home unexpectedly can't lower or raise the temperature to excessive levels, which would drive up energy costs.
- More precise temperature control. These devices tend to be much more accurate than the older analog thermostats. According to the Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA), a professional organization for the HVAC industry, a manual analog thermostat can suffer from temperature variances up to five degrees. Programmable units, on the other hand, are accurate within half a degree.
While the energy savings you achieve by adjusting the thermostat add up, if your current thermostat isn't accurate, you might unknowingly be using far more energy than you thought. The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that half the energy you use each year goes toward keeping your home comfortable. If your current thermostat isn't accurate, replacing it with a new one will pay for itself quickly.
- Motion, light sensors, and humidity controls. Some thermostats have sensors that adjust the temperature settings based on occupancy. These devices will go back to their away-settings if there's no motion or light inside the home. If your HVAC system has a central dehumidifier or humidifier, you can select a programmable thermostat that will automatically keep the humidity levels where you set them during summer and winter.
Proper humidity levels are critical for your health and comfort year-round. The humidity level also affects your home. The ideal range should be between 30 and 50 percent. Anything under or over those levels can damage your home's structure and contents, along with worsening allergy and asthma symptoms.
- HVAC system alerts. Some models of programmable thermostats have sensors inside them that tell you when to check the air filter. Changing your air filters regularly will keep your system running efficiently. Airflow slows when the filter is covered with dust, which makes it run longer and harder to condition your home, driving up energy bills. Dirt covering the indoor HVAC components can also shorten your system's life.
Besides the filter-check light, some thermostats can alert you when a part needs to be checked or serviced, much like your vehicle has a check-engine or a low-tire-pressure warning light. It's usually far less expensive to fix a problem when it first occurs because the repair won't be as extensive.
- Ability to zone your home. Zoning systems have been developed that help you manage the temperature throughout your home with kits that work with existing HVAC equipment. Homes are seldom evenly comfortable throughout, so when a home has a zoning system, it's divided into areas that have similar conditioning requirements.
Likely choices for zoning include those with livable basements, two stories, areas with high ceiling plates, or areas that aren't routinely used. Zoning systems work by using dampers inside the ducts and individual thermostats for each zone. When that zone calls for conditioning, the damper automatically opens when conditioned air is called for and closes when the thermostat's setting is reached.
When coupled with programmable thermostats, the system will cut energy bills even more because you can program each zone's thermostat based on occupancy patterns. It's much easier to program the thermostat once than twice each day. And given the high accuracy of these types of thermostats, you'll have precise control over each zone.
Tips for getting the most from your programmable thermostat:
- The units come with hold/vacation and temporary settings so that you can override the current setting. If you're going to be away for a few days, use the hold setting. Use the temporary feature if you're going to be at home. Using the hold/vacation feature changes the settings and they won't go back to normal until the next 24-hour cycle begins.
- Keep the temperature changes reasonable. Turning it up to 80 degrees F in the winter, when you really want it at 76, will not heat your home any faster than setting it right where you want it.
- Some programmable thermostats use batteries. Make sure you check them periodically to avoid system failures due to dead batteries.
- Keep energy-saving setback periods for at least eight hours at a time for maximum benefits.
To learn more about the suitability of programmable thermostats for your home, contact Comfort24-7.com. We can help you find a contractor in Chicagoland, northwest Indiana, and southwest Michigan today.
Written by Randy Gailit