We're starting the new year off with a blog series on thermostats
. Why? Because thermostats play an important role in your home heating and we don't think they always get the attention they deserve. When you move into a new home you may buy new furniture, put on a fresh coat of paint or replace a few appliances, but chances are you're keeping the same thermostat the last owner used. And why is that, when your comfort level is directly related to how well that little temperature controller works? So here are three reasons why you should care about what thermostat you have: It's the "brain" of your heating system.
Regardless of what kind of heating system you use
, a thermostat is most likely calling the shots. It reads the temperature of your room or house and tells your heating system what to do to get to the desired temperature. They control an estimated 9 percent of the total energy (both electric and fuel) used in the United States, according to a 2011 study by the UC Davis Energy Efficiency Center
. Thermostats, when used properly, can save you money.
The U.S. Department of Energy
estimates that you can save between 5 and 15 percent on your heating bill by lowering the setting on a (programmable) thermostat by 10 to 15 degrees for 8 hours. Other studies have show that unfortunately, most of the time cost savings is not actually realized because programmable stats are misunderstood, not installed correctly or are difficult to use. Most programmable stats will let you automatically lower temperature when you are asleep or away or even keep the home at a lower temperature when you're away on vacation. Not all thermostats are alike.
You might be tempted to think that a thermostat is a thermostat. That's not true. whether it's a basic mechanical stat or a programmable electronic one, different stats have different advantages. Electronic thermostats are usually accurate to within .5 degrees. Mechanical ones are usually accurate to between 2 and 5 degrees but that accuracy decreases over time. Mechanical stats win in the price department as the least expensive option available. Programmable thermostats can be more difficult to initially set up compared to non-programmable, but take the thinking out of controlling your home's temperature. The fact of the matter is, you need to think which thermostat will serve your needs best. We'll take a deeper look at issues over the next few weeks by reviewing different types of thermostats. We also hope to shed some light on all the different things a programmable thermostat is capable of doing and offer some tips and best practices on programming your thermostat.