Choosing and Understanding Programmable Thermostats
Digital thermostats are here to stay. Even though industry developers have noted that many consumers consider their thermostats too complex to program, it is unlikely that programmable thermostats will go away. As technologies develop, thermostats will become more user friendly. As they are, it is best to learn how they work.
At basic level, all thermostats activate your furnace or air conditioner when the temperature rises above or below a preset temperature. Programmable thermostats do the same, but they control the preset temperatures and other settings with microprocessors. They also allow people to program varying temperatures throughout the day in order to save money on heating and electricity. Some programmable thermostats come connected to Wi-Fi. This provides owners the ability to control the HVAC system from their mobile device.
Choosing a Programmable Thermostat
Many thermostats have similar settings. They provide options for whole-house fans, heating, and cooling. So-called “smart” (programmable) thermostats give users more control. Choosing between them first depends on your needs and budget. The more bells and whistles you want, the more the thermostat will cost. Also, the more variable your schedule, the more programming options you will require of your device.
Determine Your Schedule
The first thing you will need to do, therefore, is to determine when you will be in and away from your home or office. Track the times you (and others) come and go for a week. While you are tricking this, also track your sleeping schedule. After this period, you should be able to tell what you will require of your thermostat.
If you are in and out a lot and your schedule changes daily, consider a thermostat that allows you to change settings via Wi-Fi, like the American Standard AccuLink™ models. The key to saving energy with a programmable thermostat is to set a predetermined schedule, which you can afterward ignore. If your schedule changes, the next-best option is to find a model that is easy to use and which is accessible away from the control panel.
If, however, your schedule is fairly constant, you may not require a Wi-Fi model. Still, the more you are in and out, the more you will require of the thermostat. Higher-end models allow additional programming settings. Many of these models provide daily (or “7-day”) scheduling. Lower-end models may lack this feature and provide only the ability to schedule weekdays and weekends as a whole (called “5-2” scheduling). Other common schedule settings among thermostats include 5-1-1 (weekends and individual weekend settings), and 1-week (the same heating/cooling schedule runs every day). Many devices can store six or more temperature settings a day.
It is important to note that while all programmable thermostats are digital, not all digital thermostats are programmable. A digital thermostat is simply a thermostat that has an LCD or LED screen and touchpads. Some digital thermostats do not have much more functionality than manual ones.
Using Your Digital Thermostat
If you are looking for a step-by-step guide on how to use your programmable thermostat, you will need to read the user manual for your model. If you lack the manual, search Google for “user manual” and your product name. While all programmable thermostats work roughly the same way, they do not all operate the same way. So, it is difficult to provide a comprehensive how-to guide on working your device. As said, however, general principles apply.
Installing Your Thermostat
After choosing your device, you will need to determine whether you can install it yourself or whether you will require professional help. Most installations are simple: you remove the old thermostat and hook in the new one. If you have a whole-house humidifier, a dual-fuel system, a poorly placed thermostat, or inadequate wiring, installing the thermostat can be more difficult. In that case, we suggest professional assistance.
Programming Your Thermostat
Once it’s installed, you will need to program the thermostat. We assume you’ve already tracked your schedule. If not, you will need to do that first. All Thermostats are different so you’ll need to follow the instructions provided with the thermostat you’ve chosen.
After the thermostat is programmed, you should ideally be able to ignore it until the season or your schedule changes. Some models offer additional programming. They allow you to adjust humidity settings, they can adjust indoor temperatures based on outdoor temperatures, and others can sense light levels to determine what rooms are unoccupied so that they can adjust the temperature accordingly.
If you want help choosing between models, the professionals at Patriot Heating and Air Conditioning are able to assist you. We offer American Standard and Honeywell thermostats and can help with any installation.