Your Control Panel for Comfort: Possibilities with New Thermostats

new thermostatsMost folks don’t replace their thermostats. It’s been our experience that unless the entire HVAC system is being redone, the thermostat generally gets left until it breaks. But it’s also been our experience that leaving things until they break isn’t the best or cheapest way to go about things.

Moving and Replacing Thermostats

Thermostats, at their most basic level, tell your heating or cooling system when to turn on or off and offer a manual override so you can turn on either system at any time. They have a temperature sensor and some method of setting the temperature at which you want heat or air conditioning to come on.[1.] Old, basic thermostats often require you to manually switch between AC and heat; on most new models you can digitally set the system to do so without your input.

If your HVAC system doesn’t seem to be working as well as it should, it could be that your thermostat is poorly positioned. It has to be in a similar climate as the rest of the house—centrally located, in a large room or long hallway, and mounted to something that won’t retain heat (so not on concrete). You’d be surprised how many thermostats get put in out-of-the-way places or on inappropriate surfaces that limit their effectiveness. A great example is one client of ours who had a very modern home design, including certain walls in the house that were poured concrete. Unfortunately, the thermostat was located on one of these walls. Concrete retains both hot and cold temperatures much longer than the air in the house does, and the thermostat was always at least ten degrees warmer or colder than the rest of the house. Fortunately, the fix was simple: move the thermostat!

Replacing a thermostat is usually quick, as long as you have the right tools and familiarity. We know homeowners who have even replaced their thermostats themselves. Even so, it’s much easier to have a professional do the job, especially if you’re going from an older model to a newer one. Professional installers can also explain any features or functions of a new thermostat to you, as well as help you optimize your new thermostat for your home.

Saving Money with New Thermostats

There are a lot of good reasons to switch to a new thermostat. For one, the pennies you’re saving by holding off on a new thermostat might, in reality, be dollars of efficiency lost every month in your utility bill. A good control panel allows you to really get the most out of your system; even a well-maintained HVAC system might be less than optimal if your thermostat is too old to take advantage of the system. This goes double for thermostats that are programmable with a calendar function: these devices allow you to set a schedule for the air conditioning and heat to follow, much like a sprinkler system in your yard. Instead of having to leave the AC on all day to come back to a cool house, you can program these thermostats to turn off the AC when you leave for work and turn it back on an hour before you return.

That’s just one example of how far thermostat technology has come. The newest developments are Wi-Fi enabled devices that are “smart,” much like the phone in your pocket—and can also be controlled by it, or by your laptop, wherever you are. These thermostats will record data about how you use your HVAC system, and make fine adjustments to optimize the system for your savings and comfort. They’ll even remind you when it’s time to have your HVAC filters changed. Today’s thermostats are space-age technology compared to the old analog models, and they’re surprisingly cost-effective when compared to an astronomical energy bill in the summer.

No matter what model you go with, from the old-school to the futuristic, your next thermostat should meet your needs and help you get the most out of your HVAC system. A professional installer like Bell Brothers will help you find the right fit for your home, from picking the thermostat to picking the place to put it and getting everything set up with your system.