A 3-Step Guide to Choosing the Right Thermostat

Many homeowners may not realize it, but there’s more to thermostats than just turning the air on and off. If you’re building a new home, doing renovations, or having a new HVAC system installed, you’ll likely face several choices when it comes to thermostats. The three most common varieties of thermostats are manual, programmable, and smart. Each one has different features, benefits, and drawbacks.

To help you choose the right thermostat for your home, we’ve prepared this easy three-step guide.

Step 1: Identify your needs

Before you can decide on a thermostat, it’s helpful to establish what your needs are. Are you a tech-enthusiast who would be interested in a smart thermostat, or are you looking for a simple solution? Is energy-efficiency a priority, or is that something you’re less concerned about? Do you need the ability to set multiple temperatures, or do you prefer to keep your home at one consistent temperature? Answers to questions such as these will help you find a thermostat that fits your lifestyle.

You should also consider the characteristics of your home because it can help determine which thermostat may be best for you. For example, if you live in an older home, a smart thermostat may not be compatible. Smaller homes and apartments may not need the energy-saving qualities of a programmable thermostat, so a manual thermostat may be the best option.

Step 2: Weigh the pros and cons

Once you identify the needs of your thermostat, start weighing the pros and cons of each thermostat you have in mind. That way, you can decide if there are any deal breakers or if the pros outweigh any potential cons.

We’ve put together our own list of pros and cons for the three most common types of thermostats:

Manual

Pros:

  • Easy to control
  • Low cost
  • Easy installation

Cons:

  • No flexibility in temperature settings
  • Can lead to higher energy bills

Manual thermostats are simple devices that generally have two basic functions: Set a temperature and shift from heating to cooling. Typically, they are cost-effective and ideal for homeowners who want a no-frills thermostat experience and aren’t necessarily interested in the latest gadgets. Manual thermostats are also best for homeowners who spend all or most of the day at home, and don’t need the added feature of changing the temperature often.

However, the simple controls of manual thermostats mean they have little flexibility. Temperatures will not change automatically, or when you’re not home. If you forget to change the thermostat settings before you leave, you can end up wasting energy and paying higher utility bills.

Programmable

Pros:

  • Interactive display
  • Ability to set multiple temperatures
  • Considerable savings on energy bills

Cons:

  • Higher initial cost than manual thermostats
  • Setup may be confusing

A programmable thermostat allows you to set the temperature in your home based on your schedule. For example, if you’re home in the mornings, but away at work throughout the rest of the day, you can program the thermostat to automatically increase or decrease the temperature as needed. This helps your system work more efficiently, and reduces the amount of energy you use per month. According to the EPA, homeowners can save around $180 a year by using a programmable thermostat.

Programmable thermostats are available in several different models. Each one offers different levels of temperature customization depending on the days of the week or weekends.

  • 7-day model: If your schedule changes daily, this model allows you to set a different temperature schedule for every day of the week.
  • 5+2-day model: This model allows you to set a temperature schedule for weekdays and for weekends.
  • 5-1-1 model: With this model, you can customize even further by setting a specific temperature schedule for both Saturday and Sunday.

Despite their benefits, there are some drawbacks when it comes to programmable thermostats. If you’ve never had a programmable thermostat, the new controls can be confusing when it comes to setting different schedules. You may want to take some time to ensure you are programing your thermostat correctly. Additionally, programmable thermostats generally cost more than manual ones—however, the savings on your energy bills over time may justify the higher initial cost.

Smart

Pros:

  • Remote access
  • Energy savings
  • Sleek and modern design

Cons:

  • Not compatible with all systems
  • Dependent on Wi-Fi connection
  • Higher initial costs

Smart thermostats are Wi-Fi enabled devices that can be controlled from your smartphone, computer, or tablet, allowing you to set the temperature in your home from practically anywhere. Smart thermostats are also able to “learn” from your usage patterns over time and will eventually adjust the temperature to your daily habits and the changing seasons. Certain smart thermostats, such as Nest, can also alert you monthly when it’s time to change your filters or if your home has become too hot or cold.

One drawback of smart thermostats is the costs involved. Compared to programmable and manual thermostats, a smart thermostat can cost anywhere from twice to five times as much. Of course, this cost includes all of the benefits and app integrations of a smart thermostat—but for homeowners on a budget, the initial cost may not be attractive.

Another drawback of smart thermostats is the fact that they may not be compatible with older HVAC systems. If you live in an older home, or haven’t had your system updated recently, a smart thermostat may not be an option. Additionally, if your home doesn’t have a reliable Wi-Fi connection, you may experience frequent outages and errors with a smart thermostat. If you live in a rural area, choosing a thermostat that is not dependent on stable internet is recommended.

Step 3: Research brands

Once you’ve decided on the type of thermostat you’d like for your home, you can narrow down which manufacturer and brand of thermostat you’d like to purchase. Researching popular brands and reading reviews online can give you an idea of what to expect. You can also ensure that the brand has a strong track record when it comes to warranties and maintenance calls.

Manual and programmable thermostat brands include, but are not limited to:

Smart thermostat brands include, but are not limited to:

After researching and finding a brand that’s right for your home, you can purchase the thermostat either online or at your local hardware store and have it installed by a qualified HVAC company.

How Chas Roberts can help

Your thermostat is just one element of your overall HVAC system. For all of your HVAC questions, turn to the experts at Chas Roberts. With over 75 years of experience, we’ve never wavered from the standards of integrity, honesty, and trustworthiness that our founders instilled upon us. Contact us today for repairs, replacements, and more.

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