Bob Youngman
Bob Youngman poses for a portrait inside his home.

Upgrading from basic bi-metal thermostats to electronic ones has lowered heating bills and increased in-home comfort for Bob and Elizabeth Youngman of Sun Valley City, Idaho.

The Youngmans have had Cadet baseboard and wall heaters in their two-level townhome since they bought it but have always had the bi-metal thermostats. Those thermostats use two pieces of metal that are laminated together. Each type of metal has a different rate of expansion when heated and cooled, which is what controls the thermostat temperature. If you want to learn more about how bi-metal thermostats work, visit

When you set a desired temperature on the bi-metal thermostats, the heaters will power on until the temperature gets a little higher than you set it, then the heaters turn off. The heaters will turn back on again when the room temperature drops below the set temperature and the cycle repeats. This on/off swing can be significant.

In contrast, electronic thermostats have digital sensors that are much more accurate and responsive. Those temperature swings are small.

Bob said with the old thermostats he would see big swings in temperature in his house.

“With the new thermostats that (the temperature swings) totally goes away,” he said. “You have a much more even temperature.”

Bob is using the TH106 and TH401 electronic thermostats in parts of his home, those thermostats have a baseboard setting which will allow the thermometers to cycle every 15 seconds, which gives the most consistent temperature control available. Bi-metals and electronic stats with fan heaters usually cycle about every 15 minutes.

In addition to increased comfort, Bob said the electronic stats are saving him money on the heating bill.

Bob reported a 30 percent reduction in the cost of heating his home in January 2014 compared to January 2013. His thermostats were a gift but he said that the increased comfort of programmable thermostats would easily pay for themselves because of the energy savings. He guesses he saved about $35 for each non-programmable electronic thermostat and $60 for the programmable one over the entire winter season.

“The payback is a no-brainer,” he said.