Tengo calor: Time for a New Thermostat?
I recently installed a new thermostat for my home. This was after the installation of a new furnace. Isn’t it funny how after you replace one thing another thing needs replacing? A thermostat controls the temperature, much like an oven or stove have temperature controls. Thermostats (Thermos is Greek for “hot” and statos for “standing”) operate both heating and cooling in homes, offices, schools, etc. Next to the wheel this may be the most important invention. Warren Johnson is the one we can all thank for his invention of the electric thermostat in 1883. Many innovations in thermostats have occurred since Johnson’s 1882 invention, thus it is important to do some research before purchasing and installing a thermostat.
There are hundreds of choices to make when selecting a thermostat, quite a first world challenge. Ease of use, style, and efficiency are a few characteristics to consider. There is a price difference with each model and function.
Types of Thermostats
1. Manual: simple controls
There are various kinds within these two categories.
A. Multistage Heat Pump Thermostat: A multistage heat pump is a heat pump with auxiliary heat or emergency heat, and this device acts as a backup when temperatures significantly drop. (Usually these are found in condominiums and apartments)
B. Mechanical Thermostats: Easy to use and generally less expensive than their programmable counterparts. A mechanical thermostat provides simple control of your heating and cooling system, so if you're looking straight-forward temperature control, there's no better choice.
C. Line Voltage Thermostats: Control the electricity directly, thus the name "line voltage." If you have a baseboard heater, electric wall heater, or resistive electric heater, you may require a line voltage thermostat. These thermostats are generally made for either 2 wires (SPST) or 4 wires (DPST - more common).
Compatibility - Types of Systems
1. One Stage: Separate heating and air conditioning. Single stage thermostats work for gas systems with or without an air conditioner, oil heating system; hot water, electric furniture, millivolt, central air, or single stage heat pumps. Overall, a single stage thermostat will work on most 24 volt systems with less than 6 wires connected.
2. Two Stage: These have high and low speeds for heating and cooling.
3. Direct Line Voltage – 110 or 240 direct current power source used in some older homes to power the thermostat.
4. 24mV – For use with a fireplace, floor, or wall furnace.
5. Zoned HVAC - Heating and/or cooling is individually controlled in different areas from the same HVAC system.
1. 7-day programming – Allows you to program each day of the week separately. This option is perfect for today’s busy family with different schedules every day.
2. 5-2 programming - Allows you to set a standard program during the week while you’re at work and another program for the weekends when you’re spending more time at home.
3. 5-1-1 programming – Allows you to set a standard program during the week in addition to separate programs for both Saturday and Sunday. A great option for families with a structured weekend schedule.
4. 1-week - Allows you to set one basic program that runs all week long.
*Those living in mild climates such as coastal California, Costa Rica, or South Australia may be able to select a more simple thermostat, as it may not be something that gets a lot of use.
Styles and Functions
1. Digital Thermostats: Today's modern digital thermostats use electricity to achieve precise temperature control and optimal comfort.
2. Non-Programmable Thermostats: Non-programmable thermostats are great if you're looking for an easy, no-frills way to control your heating and cooling system. Simply set it to your desired temperature and adjust it down or up as you desire. (These are generally less expensive and may well work for you.)
3. Touch Screen Controls: Simple touch-sensitive controls put the ability to alter settings right at your fingertips.
4. Selectable Program Periods: Allows you to set temperatures for different time periods and at various points during the day to fit your specific needs.
5. Backlit Display Panel: Allows you to see what you’re doing clearly in low- or no-light environments for easier operation.
6. Indicator Lights: Some programmable models have a feature that lets you know when the furnace needs a new filter or the battery is low.
7. Battery Operation and Backup: Ideal for older homes where the required wiring may not be readily available. For properly wired homes, a battery backup system eliminates the need to reprogram thermostats after a power failure.
8. Remote Programming and Controls: Removable interface lets you program the unit in a more comfortable location. Units with radio frequency remote controls can be changed from anywhere in the house. Phone applications are another feature to consider.
9. Keyboard Lock: Models with a keyboard lock prevent children and others from tampering with established settings.
10. Vacation Mode: Allows you to temporarily set your heating and cooling for maximum energy savings while you’re away on vacation and revert back to normal settings when you return with the push of a button.
11. Filter-change Reminder: This convenient feature tells you when the furnace or A/C filter needs changing based on elapsed time.
Prior to buying a thermostat, or other products, it is a good idea to read reviews and ratings. Consumer Reports is one place to start. Special Note: A little research can go a long way. Sometimes you can find ratings by Consumer Reports on other sites, without having to pay for a subscription.
“1933: Arthur Kallet, an engineer and director of Consumers' Research, and Frederick Schlink, an engineer, publish ‘100,000 Guinea Pigs: Dangers in Everyday Foods, Drugs, and Cosmetics.’ It is "intended not only to report dangerous and largely unsuspected conditions affecting food, drugs, and cosmetics, also, so far as possible, to give the consumer some measure of defense against such conditions. For complete Ratings and recommendations on appliances, cars & trucks, electronic gear, and much more, subscribe today and have access to all of ConsumerReports.org.”
Removal and Installation
1. Slowly and carefully remove the old thermostat. The new thermostat may come with small stickers to label any wires. This will make installation of the new one easier. Additionally, you may wish to photograph the installation of the old unit before totally removing it, this will remind you where the wires will go on the new unit.
2. Look for how to dispose of your old thermostat. Some thermostats contain mercury and other items that should not be disposed of in the regular trash.
3. Read the directions before installing your new thermostat. Yes, this is a pain and can sometimes confuse you more than when you started. If that is the case, check online for further instructions and tips on the maker’s website and other websites.
4. If you select the Honeywell Programmable Thermostat RTH6350/RTH6450 Series like me then you may need to turn the A/C on by first pressing the far right button to system cool, then press the arrow down to the desired temperature. A/C off --press the far right button to system off and wait a couple minutes for the system to shut down.
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Credits: wiki.org, homedepot.com, honeywell-thermostat.com, consumerreports.org, http://www.thedailygreen.com/