Room Thermostats

You can control comfort and energy bills with the appropriate room thermostats - once you become familiar with your options...

Here’s where you can quickly learn about the variety of  thermostats for heating and air conditioning systems (HVAC), how they operate and the options available. A little up-front knowledge will go a long way in saving you money and frustration when decision time rolls around…

You have five, basic choices:

Chances are that your old unit unit is a bit dated so it's likely not a very good idea to replace it with a similar model. Time brings innovation so you can probably do better this time around. So which one is best for your particular needs and budget? You should know in about 5 minutes...

Types of thermostats

1) Beginning with the most basic, we have the old workhorse – a mechanical thermostat. This is not much more than a thermometer attached to a temperature-sensitive metal coil switch and a mercury-filled vial that turns your heater or air conditioning system on or off. This is the type that your parents, or grandparents had...

Pro and cons

They are inexpensive, easy to change out and simple to operate. But that’s about it. (Great for the elderly or extreme, non-techie types.) The main issue with mechanical models is their inherent inaccuracy. Secondly, they don’t support any programmable features. This combination is not conducive to energy efficiency; i.e., you get what you pay for - and less. A similar concept would be a pre-remote control TV set whre you had to actually get up and down to change the channel or adjust the volume. Image that!

2) Next up the ladder is the basic digital, non-programmable device. They have the same function as the mechanical models, but perform a lot more accurately and efficiently since they are electronic in nature. They are also back-lit for easier display reading.

Basic digitals eliminate the old coil and mercury vial and instead utilize an electronic sensor and a microprocessor to compare temperature readings to the desired setting. It’s kind of like comparing your battery-operated electronic watch to the old-fashioned wind-up style.

Having better accuracy and a more modern device is helpful and a step in the right direction for saving energy, but still no comparison to…

3) Digital, programmable thermostats. These are the more common units and the ones being used in most new homes and buildings today. The reasons are obvious: comfort, control and energy efficiency.

Who doesn’t want to be more comfortable in their living environment and save on their energy bills while reducing their carbon footprint?

These devices are similar to the digital units we just discussed but far more convenient and flexible. Can you say, “automated’?  You can pre-program them to perfectly suite your lifestyle automatically (set it and forget it). For the busy or the forgetful, these can be a real blessing.

More features and benefits

Programmable room thermostats have an added memory feature that can easily be set to match your daily routine. You only need to make adjustments for the four seasons and any lifestyle or schedule changes in between. You can always override your settings very easily.

As with other models, you pay for the additional features and just how much control and flexibility is desired. The less expensive units may only have options for weekday and weekend adjustments. The better models offer more flexibility such as the ability to change times on a daily basis, vacation settings and much more.

Imagine a long, hot summer (like we’re experiencing as I write this): It’s nice to know that if you rushed out of the house late to work one day, forgetting to turn up the thermostat, that it wouldn’t be continually cooling an empty house all day long until your return. That is wasteful and expensive. With a programmable devise this simply would not happen. You would have it set to adjust about the time you left each day without even having to think about it.

By the same token, there would be no returning to a hot, stuffy house after a long hard day at work. That’s because you had set/programmed your AC to come on a short time prior to your typical arrival. Ahhh... Of course the same benefits apply for heating your dwelling during the winter months as well. Automation is cool... or hot.    ;-)

Your other options:

We’ve covered the main HVAC control devices to this point. Care to learn a bit more? I recommend browsing the other pages on this site if you've not yet done so to get a well rounded “T-stat Education”! Check out the Wireless Thermostats and Internet Thermostats pages: you’ll find them to be interesting and possible contenders for your home or office. This is where the fun really begins if you’re the techy-type or simply desire the ultimate control and efficiency.

I hope this has been a blessing and helped you to gain some insight into the various types of room thermostats. You'll find additional resources towards the top of each page. And please "Like" my site if you'd care to share.

Take care,

GT Phillips 

Wireless Thermostats
Your resource center for wireless thermostats plus other control options!

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