Modern thermostats typically have a lifespan of around 10 years. Many units can last longer, but they quickly become outdated as technology continually advances. As a thermostat ages, it can also often start to have issues registering the temperature correctly, leading to higher energy costs and/or decreased home comfort. If your thermostat is starting to fail or you’re simply looking to upgrade, this guide will explain the things you should consider to help you find the right thermostat for your home.
1. Decide What Type of Thermostat You Want
The first thing you’ll obviously need to do when shopping for a new thermostat is to decide what type of unit you want. Manual or non-programmable thermostats are generally never recommended. While they may be simple to use, you have to remember to adjust the temperature before leaving for work and going to bed so that your heating or air conditioning doesn’t run unnecessarily and your energy costs stay lower.
Modern programmable thermostats are definitely a better option than manual thermostats and will help you save some money on your heating and air conditioning bills. However, some units can be difficult to program and adjust the settings. Studies have shown that more than 40% of homeowners don’t program their thermostats correctly, leading to their energy bills being higher than they need to be. In fact, this issue is so prevalent that it led to ENERGY STAR no longer rating or certifying programmable thermostats.
A programmable thermostat isn’t necessarily a bad option, but the fact is that smart thermostats are far more intuitive and provide much greater convenience. All smart thermostats are WiFi-enabled and feature a connected app so that you can control your heating and air conditioning directly from your phone, tablet, or even a smart home assistant.
Some smart thermostats are no different from standard programmable units except that they can connect to your home’s Wi-Fi network and also to a smart home hub like an Amazon Echo, Apple HomeHub, or Google Nest. There are also more advanced smart thermostats that are often referred to as “learning thermostats,” which are much more convenient and can help you save even more on your energy bills.
A learning thermostat never needs to be programmed. You can still manually adjust the programming and temperature settings using the app, but the thermostat will program everything else automatically. If you have cameras and motion sensors inside your house or even just a Wi-Fi doorbell camera, the thermostat will work with these devices to learn your daily routines and program your heating and AC accordingly. It will learn what time you normally get out of bed in the morning and program your HVAC system so that the house is already fully warm or cool when you wake up. It will then turn the temperature up or down at the time you leave for work and then set the temperature back to normal so your home is again fully heated or cooled by the time you get back from work.
2. Make Sure You Choose a Compatible Smart Thermostat
If you decide to opt for any type of smart thermostat, you’ll want to make sure that it is compatible with any other smart home devices in your house. You typically don’t need to worry much about the thermostat being compatible with your phone or tablet since most units have apps for both iOS and Android. Compatibility is mainly an issue if you want to use the voice-control function so you can tell Alexa or Siri to turn the heat or AC on or adjust the temperature up or down.
When you have a smart home hub that controls other smart home devices, all of the devices don’t actually connect to your Wi-Fi network. The hub does connect to Wi-Fi, but it sends out a different type of wireless protocol that allows the other devices to connect to it. This is important as it prevents the devices from using up your bandwidth and making your Wi-Fi network slower.
The most common protocols used by smart home hubs are Zigbee and Z-Wave. Some hubs can use either protocol, but some only use one or the other. If your smart thermostat doesn’t run on the same protocol as your hub, you won’t be able to connect the two and will only be able to control the thermostat through the app. As such, it is important to research what protocol your hub uses and then make sure that you choose a compatible smart thermostat that can connect over the same protocol.
3. Consider Which Advanced Features You May Want
Some smart thermostats also have more advanced features that add even greater convenience or can help you save even more money. For instance, some units have an energy monitoring feature that will allow you to see how much energy your HVAC system uses in a day or a month. This type of feature can be extremely useful as makes it easy to see how much energy you can save by making minor adjustments to the thermostat settings. For instance, you can try turning the temperature up or down by a few degrees or adjusting the times throughout the day that the temperature changes and quickly see whether the changes resulted in a noticeable decrease in energy usage.
Monitoring the energy usage also makes it easier to know if you need to have your heating or air conditioning serviced or repaired. If your energy usage suddenly starts increasing and you haven’t adjusted the thermostat settings or programming, it’s a sign that your HVAC system isn’t working as effectively. In this case, you may need to replace the air filter or have a technician perform an inspection. Many smart thermostats also allow you to program regular alerts or notifications to help you remember when it’s time to replace the air filter or schedule your yearly maintenance service.
Some smart thermostats will also monitor the performance of the HVAC system by measuring the temperature rise or drop and the length of each cooling or heating cycle. If the performance starts to decrease, the thermostat can send an alert to your phone so that you again know if your system needs to be serviced or repaired. You’ll also get an alert if the system has any major issues that caused it to shut down, such as a safety switch that triggered, or if the system doesn’t turn on when it should.
Geo-fencing is another feature found on some units that also takes the hassle out of programming the thermostat. This feature works with the GPS on your phone to monitor your location. You can then use the app to program certain boundary lines so that the thermostat automatically raises or lowers the temperature when you get within a certain distance of your house or a certain distance away from home.
If you programmed the boundary line near your workplace, the thermostat would adjust the temperature when you get to work and then again when you leave at the end of the day. If you left work early, the geo-fencing feature would help ensure your home is comfortable by the time you get back. Similarly, if you had to work late, the feature would ensure that your HVAC system doesn’t turn on earlier than it needs to so it doesn’t waste energy.
If you’re looking to upgrade or replace the thermostat in your home, you can trust the team at Emergency Air Heating Cooling & Plumbing for help. We work with all types of thermostats and can help you choose the best unit for your home. Give us a call for more information on our thermostat services or if you need any air conditioning or heating service in Chandler or the Phoenix Metro area.