According to the study and statistics of ENERGY STAR, 45% of the energy utilized in homes in the US is just for heating and cooling which on average costs an annual amount of $2,100 to $2,500. One of the reasons for such high bills is because of heating and cooling of unoccupied spaces. Moreover, there are many other reasons which contribute to the waste of energy. For example, consider the following situations: When you are not home for the weekend and you have forgotten to turn off your HVAC system, a great deal of energy is wasted. Also consider your sleeping time, when by adjusting your thermostat to 10 degrees less than the outside temperature, you will eventually use 10% more energy. Now it might seem a little bit annoying for some people to constantly change the temperature on the thermostat to keep up with the varying temperature outside, or to tune it down every night before sleep. That is why the Programmable/Smart Thermostats has come to the market.
Smart Programmable Thermostat
A programmable thermostat can help you to keep your home comfortable and have the control of your energy consumption. Programmable thermostat models allow you to program the temperature throughout the whole week and even for specify times of the day. However, keep in mind that not all programmable thermostats offer the same amount of flexibility. Currently, there are three common types that provide that function. The 7-day model, the 5+2-day model, and the 5-1-1 models.
- 7-day models are best for day to day configuration., They can have up to four temperature periods per day and you can set daily schedules for them.
- 5+2-day models allow you to use the same schedule for weekdays and a different one for the weekend.
- 5-1-1 models allow you to keep the same schedule throughout the week and a different schedule for Sundays and Saturdays.
The exact capacity of each product for setting up schedules depends on the brand. Therefore, you have to make sure that you are getting a desirable amount of flexibility for your personal needs.
There are also a lot of useful functions that vary from model to model like auto changeover switch, adjustable cycle, filter-change reminder, full memory saves, clear onscreen prompts and intuitive controls.
Smart thermostats are thermostats that adjust automatically the temperatures in different sections of a house. It is Wi-Fi enabled and so can easily connect to devices such as a smartphone, or a home automation system. It can be remotely programmed and adjusted via an app and internet connection.
A Smart Thermostat allows the homeowner to adjust and control the temperature and schedules remotely. It also delivers manageable and tractable data about a home’s energy usage.
There are a few things to keep your eye on when shopping a smart thermostat:
- C-wire connection: while some thermostats might be powered by a set of batteries, most of them require more electricity than a battery can afford. They basically rely on a low-voltage cable power provided by the HVAC System. C (Common) is all that is necessary to keep the thermostat running. Although some of them can run on other electricity sources like the R (power) wire, it is not recommended as it is known to cause problems with some specific HVAC Systems and probably lead to permanent damages. When planning to upgrade, look if there is a C wire connected to the old device or disconnected and hidden inside the wall; otherwise, one must be installed as all manufacturers highly recommend it.
- Installation and accessibility: The process of installation shouldn’t be difficult even for a moderately handy person. The manufacturers should provide an understandable user manual with all the instructions to guide you throughout the process. The device itself should indicate where you should plug the wires. The wires are color-coded and for more caution, you can take a picture to the way your old device is wired to make sure that you will not miss anything.
- Support for High-Voltage: HVAC systems are the most popular heating systems and all Programmable thermostats support them. However, if your home uses a high-voltage heater (radiant, fan-forced convector, a baseboard), you should get a thermostat that is designed specifically for that type of heater.
- Geofencing: This feature is considered extremely helpful when it comes to saving energy. What it basically does is that it creates a perimeter around your home using both the thermostat’s app and the smartphone’s GPS. It can then detect when you leave the perimeter, and then adjust the temperature to the most economical usage. Similarly, when you get back into the perimeter, it adjusts the temperature to the value you desired according to your schedule.
- Wired is weird in 2019: This feature enables you to get access to your home system from anywhere. Thanks to wireless thermostats, you can check and adjust the temperature through the internet.
- Sensors: Along with Geofencing, motion and proximity sensors can also provide information on whether there is someone in the house so that the thermostat could moderate it accordingly. But there is a drawback for programs that rely too much on the sensors. The reason is that if there is no motion around the house for a while, then the room is considered empty.
- System complexity: Some houses have an HVAC Zoning System. If that is your case, then multiple programmable thermostats are required to cover all the zones. A single app is basically enough to control multiple zones. Most thermostats also support multi-stage heating, heat pumps, ventilation, and air conditioning.
- Single-Stage and Multi-Stage Programmable Thermostats: Depending on the heating system in your house, you have to choose the right thermostat. For instance, if you use two sources for heating and two for cooling, then using a Multi-stage thermostat is the right choice, and if you use just one source, then the right choice would be a single-stage thermostat.
Tips and tricks
Here are a few tips in order to get the best out of your programmable thermostat, otherwise, it won’t be that effective in reducing your bills and saving energy.
- You should understand how to program and schedule your thermostat so that when you are out for work and the kids are in school or you are on vacation, then the program will actually reduce the unnecessary consumption of energy.
- If your thermostat is running on a set of batteries, remember to change them at least once a year, before long vacations and when a message is indicated on the screen.