Installing a programmable thermostat can help maintain energy efficiency, which saves money when heating or cooling your space. If you have installed one already, you may be among those the U.S. Energy Information Administration reported do not use their thermostat’s programming features. In 2015, the group stated that only 12% of households in the United States (with 41% of thermostats then programmable types) had programmed their thermostats. Smart thermostats are programmable with some known as “learning thermostats” having the capability to gather information about a person’s schedule, temperatures in various areas of their homes and preferences, to adjust the thermostat accordingly. If there is geofencing technology, it tracks a person’s location to maintain comfortable and energy-efficient temperatures. Experts say some of the smart thermostats can save a homeowner up to 25% yearly in heating and cooling their residence.
You need to choose a thermostat that works best with your budget, your home’s configuration and your personal preferences. Are you comfortable with making manual adjustments to your thermostat or do you have a consistent schedule that makes it easy to program it and go? Would you prefer one that senses your schedule and can make temperature adjustments on its own — or allows you to tweak it when you are away from home?
Some of the advantages with programmable and/or smart thermostats include:
- • Keeping consistency with schedules and set temperatures to lower energy bills.
- • Separate programs for weekdays and on the weekends.
- • Maintaining established zones within a home to keep heating and cooling costs down.
- • Greater precision than manual ones which can experience up to five degrees in temperature variations, according to heating and cooling professionals — programmable ones may only vary a half a degree.
- • Digital, backlit displays to facilitate temperature viewing in all lighting.
- • Touch pad screen programming for quick and easy adjusting.
- • Voice and/or phone programming to change your settings, using Wi-Fi to adjust settings remotely from anywhere.
- • Alerts that help you track various functions including when your unit is not functioning correctly or when its air filters need to be changed.
- • The ability to see how long it will take to reach your desired set temperature.
- • Sensors to detect motion and temperatures in different parts of your home for the unit to self-adjust.
- • The capability to make HVAC systems operate more efficiently.
- • The potential to receive rebates from your energy utility when purchasing ENERGY STAR® HVAC equipment like smart thermostats.
Some disadvantages to using a programmable or smart thermostat include:
- • Higher costs to purchase the equipment. While digital thermostats with simple programming features run about $30, a smart thermostat can be in excess of $300 just for the unit, which does not include other costs including routers and monthly internet charges to access “smart” and remote capabilities.
- • Challenges with setup, which experts say make smart thermostats one of the products DIYers most often return to home improvement retailers. One of the issues is the need for a c-wire or common wire from the unit, which carries 24v between the heating system and thermostat. An HVAC professional may need to assist with installation of the c-wire.
- • If a furnace is older and does not support smart thermostats, it can short-circuit. Wiring for the thermostat may need to be connected to a separate transformer.
- • Potential internet security issues, which can enable hackers to learn ideal times to physically break into a home and make advertisers aware of times to target ads. It is important to keep the thermostat locked, choose a strong password and have two-factor authentication activated.
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