Do you like being in control?
When it comes to your dwelling’s HVAC system that could be a good thing; and today’s Wireless Thermostats can certainly help you to be in control - of your heating and air conditioning system - and your utility bills.
This guide will help you to sort out and select the best kind of thermostatic control system for your heating and air conditioning (HVAC) needs, beginning right here with the wireless devices.
The typical homeowner may not have replaced their control device in a number of years - and a lot of new features and technology has come on the scene since then. Therefore it would be a mistake to run out and grab one just because it looks similar to your old one - a potential costly mistake...
Many folks confuse the term “wireless” with “Wi-Fi” or “Internet” thermostatic HVAC control systems. However, there are distinct differences: see the page “Internet Thermostats” for more on this subject.
A wireless thermostat is simply a means for controlling your HVAC system without the need for being “hard-wired” and limited to just one particular location in your home or office. Going wireless allows you to place the control module anywhere in your home without the need for expensive wiring (perfect for retro-fitting or remodeling). This “sensor” then communicates with the “receiver” which is typically located on or near your HVAC mechanical system.
This offers considerably more control and flexibility, including the option to control multiple devices and locations if a more complex system is desired. Hanging out in the family room? Simply take your control module with you. Now you can be comfortable wherever you happen to be, as easily as working your TV remote.
Following are some practical benefits:
The main benefit would be the locational flexibility. Are you in an older home or building with a poorly-located “wired-in device”? This is important when controlling your main comfort zones. Some examples of undesirable locations could be:
- Being too close to the actual HVAC system causing frequent cycling on and off. This is not good for the wear and tear of your mechanical system and it's definitely not good on the power bills.
- Installed too close to a door, window or any other potentially drafty area.
- Being too near an open stairwell (unless closed off with a door).
- In a seldom-used room or area (no people - no module).
- In a closed-off area or smaller room with little air flow or circulation.
A wireless device can easily overcome all of these situations and simply be placed in a more practical and efficient location. The more desirable areas would be places where occupants spend the most time such as living areas, family rooms or in central, “neutral” areas such as an open hallway or great room.
A great example of one of my favorite models is found on my Lux Thermostats page (more models will be reviewed soon). This one offers a circulation mode for people with breathing issues or allergies.
Another benefit is the ease of installation since there’s usually no need for pulling wires all over the house (a new slogan could be “have batteries - will travel”). Also, since these devices are totally electronic, you’ll gain much more accuracy in your temperature settings when compared to the cheaper, old-fashioned mechanical-style units that use coils and mercury-filled glass vials. The better models will also be capable of full, multi-day programming for even better energy-efficiency. These will allow you to climate-control your home several degrees off of your normal "occupied" settings when there's nobody home or everyone is in bed for the night - automatically.
In addition to more practical and efficient locations, manufacturers also claim energy savings of up to 20% or more depending on the options chosen such as programmable features. This is great for you “gadget-freaks” (like me) who enjoy programmable settings, remote controls, Wi-Fi systems, computers and the like. How far would you care to go? This can amount to even greater convenience, flexibility and energy savings.
Cost and ROI:
Initially you’ll pay more up front for this electronic technology than you would for the basic, wired wall-mount units. You will also have the ongoing expense of replacement batteries. This is typically a pair of AA lithium batteries every six to twelve months (+-$7.00), depending on usage. Prices can be all over the board so it's a good idea to decide on the features you want in order to compare "apples-to-apples".
However, with the energy-savings claims mentioned earlier, your return on investment should quickly become apparent, especially if your old thermostat is mechanical and located in one of the poor locations listed above. Keep in mind that how much you save will also depend largely on whether you opt for a basic device or a programmable one. Naturally, the more control you have over system usage, the more you can reduce your carbon footprint.
Remember to look long-term: Even a 10% savings each month can add up over time, first in the hundreds and then even into the thousands of dollars over the years.
Are you refitting, remodeling or building a new home? All of this will come into play when deciding on your options. Just keep in mind that although you'll benefit with a new control unit, you'll reap the most benefit by looking at your house as a whole, integrated energy consuming system. Your heating and air conditioning system for example is typically well over one half of your utility bill so be sure that the mechanicals are well maintained and energy efficient (look for the Energy-Star ratings when buying new). Also make sure that your duct-work is well sealed and insulated - leaks and bad joints can wreak havoc on your wallet.
You are in full control, and will have abundant features and options with wireless thermostats. You’ll enjoy a lot more flexibility, energy savings, comfort and convenience if you operate it according to the manufacturers' recommendations. Do some research and shop wisely because there are many suppliers and options (as you will notice above). Although an easy job for a “moderate” do-it-yourselfer, if in doubt contact your local HVAC expert.
My recommendation is to surf the ‘Net for the various brands and models to gain enough knowledge and insight to at least be able to “talk turkey” when you’re ready to move forward. Please continue to look over this site as well to discover other options such as my Room Thermostats page for a great overview and the Internet Thermostats for you techy-types. Similar resources are also available near the top of each page.
Wishing you all the best, and remodeling success,