In this day and age of high tech gadgets, we sometimes forget about a low tech gadget we may take for granted, thermostats. As an inspector, I see all sorts of thermostats from analog non-programmable types, digital programmable and now automatic.
Tips and Tricks
Maximize energy savings by having a programmable thermostat. Did you know they can pay for themselves in as little as four years?
You should learn as much as you can before selecting a programmable thermostat. When shopping for for a new unit, bring information with you about your current unit, including the brand and model number.
Here are some great questions to ask before buying a thermostat:
Before you buy a programmable thermostat, chart your weekly habits including wake up and departure times, return times, and bedtimes, with the temperatures you or your family find most comfortable. This will help you decide what type of thermostat will best serve your needs.
The location of your thermostat can affect its performance and efficiency. Read the manufacturer’s installation instructions to prevent “ghost readings” or unnecessary furnace or air conditioner cycling. Place thermostats away from direct sunlight, drafts, doorways, skylights and windows. Also, make sure your thermostat is located for convenient programming.
Some modern heating and cooling systems require special controls. Heat pumps are the most common and usually require special setback thermostats. These thermostats will typically use special algorithms to minimize the use of backup electric resistance heat systems.
Electric resistance systems, such as electric baseboard heating, also require thermostats capable of directly controlling 120 volt or 240 volt line-voltage circuits. Only a few companies manufacture line voltage setback thermostats.
A Note for Heat Pump Owners
When a heat pump is in heating mode, setting back a conventional heat pump thermostat can cause the unit to operate inefficiently, thereby canceling out any savings achieved by lowering the temperature setting. Maintaining a moderate setting is the most cost-effective practice. However, some companies have recently begun to sell specially designed setback thermostats for heat pumps, which make setting back the thermostat cost effective. In its cooling mode, the heat pump operates like an air conditioner, so that manually turning up the thermostat saves you money.
A Simpler Way to Control Your Environment
The best thermostat for you will depend on your lifestyle and comfort level in varying temperatures. While automatic and programmable thermostats save energy, a manual unit can be equally effective if you diligently regulate its setting and don’t mind a chilly house on winter mornings. If you decide to choose an automatic thermostat, you can set it to raise the temperature before you wake up which may spare you some discomfort. It will also perform consistently and dependably to keep your house at comfortable temperatures during the summer heat.
Devereaux Van Dyne, Certified Professional Home Inspector