Is your heating and cooling system becoming a pain to control? Your old thermostat could be the culprit. You may have a lot of questions when it comes to choosing a new model, especially with the wide range of features and functionalities available today. This guide helps break it all down. Keep these things in mind as you search to find a new thermostat for your home.
When it comes to basic vs. programmable vs. smart, it's all about lower bills, increased functionality and energy savings. Basic thermostats can get the job done, but they're no longer an efficient option. Programmable thermostats allow you to set a temperature schedule, making it easy to save when you're not home. Smart thermostats take it a step further, allowing you to remotely control the temperature schedule using a smartphone or computer.
Depending on the type you choose, you'll have some additional features to choose from. Programmable thermostats come in 7-day, 5+2-day and 5-1-1 models, allowing you to pick based on how variable your weekly schedule is. Some smart models can actually "learn" your temperature behaviors and create a schedule without manual programming. Others are capable of geofencing — tracking your location and automatically adjusting the temperature based on when you leave and return home.
3. Display and controls
Large, easy-to-read backlit displays make checking and changing the temperature much easier, especially if your thermostat is located in a dark corner or hallway. Touchscreen controls can make heating or cooling your home much more intuitive, but if you prefer the physical dials and switches, choose a model with those features. And if you prefer not to touch the thermostat at all — doing things purely from your mobile device — a smart thermostat could be right for you.
4. Your heating and cooling system
The next step is determining which thermostats are compatible with your home. Most thermostats can handle common heating and cooling setups, but some aren't built to handle two-stage heat pump or furnace systems. And if you have a zoned heating system, look for a more sophisticated thermostat that can manage multiple zones. If you opt for basic models to go with your complex system, you could be left with separate thermostats for each system and zone.
Though many thermostats are similar, you could run into a wiring problem with a new smart thermostat. Although non-connected, programmable models may work with two to five low-voltage wires, some newer models may require a common wire or C-wire, which provides a continuous flow of 24 VAC power so the advanced features function properly. If you're unsure if you have a C-wire, consult with a qualified professional before buying and installing.
ENERGY STAR®-certified smart thermostats can help you save even more on your energy bills. But if a programmable model is more your speed, ENERGY STAR offers some smart tips to help you make the most of your energy costs.