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Types of Home Thermostats and Matching the Right Equipment

A home thermostat directs the furnace and/or cooling system when to turn on and off as an indoor space’s temperature fluctuates. It plays a very important role, both in comfort and energy consumption.

Types of Thermostats

Thermostats vary in two ways – their internal function and the equipment they are made to control. Two core technologies are responsible – electromechanical and electronic. Both electromechanical and electronic thermostats are compatible with most kinds of electric, oil, gas, and even hydronic heating systems, and also with air conditioners. Electronic thermostats though are more powerful, thanks to an electronic sensing element that is more receptive to temperature ups and downs (as opposed to bi-metal sensors).

A programmable electronic thermostat lets you set room temperature such that in the cold months, your home’s temperature can drop to a fairly low level – for instance, 60 degrees – as you go to bed, and then increase to a comfy 70 degrees as you wake up the next morning. Or, if the house is empty during the day, the thermostat can be set to cool it while you’re away at work, and raise the temperature to a nice warmth by the time you come home. And so on.

With a programmable thermostat, you can avoid wasted energy. As a rule of thumb, for each degree you turn down a thermostat, you save 3 percent of energy use within a 24-hour period. Hence, decreasing the temperature from 70 to 61 degrees for eight hours a night can give you savings of about 9 percent. Doing the same in the day, your savings can double.
The Right Thermostat for the Right Equipment

When you purchase a thermostat, check what equipment it’s designed to control. Certain types are only designed for furnaces, while others are more versatile, being able to work with both heat pumps and air conditioners, along with other equipment that run with several stages, and heating and cooling requirements increase.

As well, there are thermostats that come with adjustments – for instance, a tiny switch on the back or wires connected in configurations that suit the equipment – allowing them to adapt according to the systems they need to work with.

A complex electronic heat-pump thermostat makes automatic calculations as to when the heat must come on so that a room’s temperature is raised up to the programmed point. It makes the heat pump go from 60 to 61 degrees, then from 61 to 62, and so forth. As a result, the electric auxiliary heat is made to believe it should stay off.

Lastly, zoned heating systems that cool or warm several rooms in a home, depending on the user’s needs, rely on sophisticated programmable electronic thermostats that enable them to manage more than one zone. These systems let you actually fine tune the settings according to your specific comfort requirements.

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