Part Five of our commonly asked heating questions, this time about thermostats – feel free to comment with anything that you have to ask!
Which type of thermostat should I have in my home?
– Programmable thermostats will save energy when properly used. Most are very easy to operate and some will control other equipment like humidifiers, HRV air exchangers and give filter change reminders. A digital thermostat starts low and has many levels of value depending on the features chosen.
I have an old furnace, would changing the thermostat do anything for us?
– Actually, the older thermostats are usually three to four degrees out in temperatures where as teh new digital thermostats are right on with accuracy! You should still consider upgrading your thermostat no matter how old your furnace is, this will help with efficiency of your existing unit. Digital thermostats are very affordable.
A thermostat is pretty easy to change – can’t I do it myself?
– You are much better off to have a qualified installer change it out. Thermostats are designed with built in variables this way the installer can set the thermostat up to your furnace as there are many furnaces out there, such as oil, propane, gas, old, new, etc. During the heating season and especially when the box malls have a sale on programmable thermostats, we have an excess of calls where this exact situation has occurred and transformers are being blown up on the furnace due to incorrect installations. This expense is much greater than the service call you will pay to have it properly installed and checked for proper operation.
How do the thermostats at the hardware stores compare to the ones you sell? Is there really a difference?
– There are several varieties of programmable thermostats on the market today. The big box stores have companies manufacture thermostats just for them so they may charge a cheaper price for the same name but different product. These thermostats often come without batteries and limited functions. The thermostats we sell are very dependable with options built in that let the user configure the thermostats to their home, not what the hardware store thinks your house is. Your home is different and unique from others and therefore needs to be treated that way to maintain comfort for the occupants.
When introducing new products to our customers, we really take the time to thoroughly research any options that are available to us. We have looked at several of the ‘smart’ thermostat devices, but have not promoted any…until now. We have recently chosen to offer the Ecobee Smart thermostats. If you haven’t heard of these thermostats, they are really revolutionary. Not only that, once the thermostat is purchased and installation is complete, there is no additional charge to the customer in order to be able to access system stats, and everything this thermostat has to offer. It’s a winner in our book. You can find a ton of information on these thermostats right here.
Since The Nest seems to be the hottest thing since sliced bread, I thought I’d do a little comparison…and would like to share the results.
Thermostats like Ecobee and Nest are different because of their CPU/memory architecture and WiFi radios. This means a few extra technical steps, but it’s nothing we can’t handle. Nest thermostats can be purchased by the consumer, and Ecobee cannot. Why, do you ask? Well, that’s easy enough to answer! According to one review, “Nest does have an option to install their thermostat without connecting [wiring] which simplifies the installation but, in our opinion, it comes at the cost of reliability and safety of your equipment. For this reason, Ecobee decided not to implement that option.” Two of the biggest problems have been short cycling [unit turning on and off repeatedly] and running out of battery power. One customer’s review said, ” I lost WiFi connection for 5+ hours, came home and my Nest said it is going to shut down due to a drained battery. It shut down the entire heating system for about 1/2 hour. After that, the heat started working, but the battery would take 4+ hours to charge enough to support WiFi.”
Our main source quotes their customers as saving an average of 26% on their heating and cooling costs vs. leaving their thermostat in hold at 72 F. Over 70% of their customers use the web portal or mobile apps and over 80% run a program and are getting energy savings of about four times the industry average.