November 30, 2019

Thermostats – the brains of your heating operation

When it comes to your heating system, thermostats just don’t get the attention they deserve for the very important role that they play in heating your home. You probably have multiple thermostats in your home which is used at least 6 months out of the year – year-round if you have central AC as well.  They are generally overlooked until something goes wrong. When it comes to updating your home, painting, buying new furniture and appliances, upgrading your HVAC system, or replacing your roof are all items that make the to-do list… but often times the thermostat gets overlooked.

So why should you care so much about that tiny wall mounted piece of equipment? Well, it’s the brains of your heating system. Regardless of the type of fuel you use to heat your home (oil, propane, natural gas, or electricity), a thermostat is most likely the tool used to control your home’s temperature. If used properly, it can even save you between 5 and 15% on your heating bill if programmed to lower the temperature while you are sleeping or away from the home.

Not all thermostats are the created equal.

Mechanical thermostats have a temperature sensor made up of 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. They are usually accurate to within 2 to 5 degrees, but they can become less accurate over time. Electronic thermostats have digital sensors to read the room temperature and are usually accurate to within .5 degrees and may have the option to be programmable. Mechanical are much cheaper to purchase BUT a programmable thermostat could pay for itself over time in energy savings.

It’s not just about cost when it comes to choosing the right thermostat for your home. You’ll have to pay attention to the equipment that the thermostat is meant to control. Some are for furnaces only, while others can control a furnace and air conditioner. If you have electric heat, you’ll need to use a different thermostat than someone who uses oil or propane. You may also have a system that provides multiple stages of heating and cooling, such as a dual-speed air conditioner, a furnace with two sets of burners, or a heat pump, you need a thermostat that is designed to handle this complication.

When it comes to upgrading your thermostat, unless you have a very specific system requiring a particular thermostat, choosing the best thermostat for your needs comes down to price, preference, and features. Have questions about your heating system requirements and what thermostats work best, give us a call or send us an email!

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