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Understanding Thermostats

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Learn why your home’s thermostat might be due for an upgrade.

With electricity rates increasing, homeowners are starting to pay close attention to their energy use. It’s important to know if your current furnace is providing maximum potential energy savings and because your thermostat acts as the control panel for your furnace, you should know how effective your thermostat is. To help you better understand, we’ll take a look at several common types of household thermostats and how efficient each model is.

1. Non-programmable Thermostats

Non-programmable thermostats require you to change the temperature manually every time you think it’s too hot or too cold. This reactive approach may cause you to turn the thermostat higher than needed, just to get your house warmer sooner. This approach will likely use more electricity, minimizing any savings you think you may have made by keeping the thermostat lower in the first place.

2. Mercury Thermostats

Mercury thermostats are non-programmable and are relatively outdated. This type of thermostat also requires you to manually change the temperature to the desired comfort level. Mercury thermostats are the most inaccurate and inefficient of all models, and are also considered a pollutant. Mercury is safe for use in thermostats, but needs to be disposed of properly.

3. Digital or Programmable Thermostats

Digital or programmable thermostats have the most potential for energy cost savings. This type has a built-in time and date function that allows you to schedule your heating and cooling patterns. Basic digital thermostats have seven day functions, while more advanced versions have multiple programs that allow you to set different temperatures on numerous schedules, such as on/off times on weekends, or various on/off times during a single day.

4. Learning Thermostats

A learning thermostat does exactly that - it learns your patterns, behaviours and will adjust to your surroundings. You can input your postal code to determine outdoor weather conditions and the unit will also account for the age, size and type of home you live in. After this data is captured, a learning thermostat will record the varying conditions in your home, including sensing the lack of motion and adjust accordingly to “away mode”. A learning thermostat can also include a humidity sensor and can remind you when to change your furnace filter.

5. Wi-Fi Thermostats

Some learning thermostats have the ability to operate on Wi-Fi. This allows the homeowner to check their monthly usage report, monitor their home’s comfort system and change the temperature remotely, from a computer or wireless device. Depending on the model of Wi-Fi thermostat you have, you could be alerted to sudden or unexpected drops or increases in temperatures as well as system malfunctions.

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The contents of this webpage are provided for general informational purposes only. We do not make any warranties about the completeness, reliability or accuracy of the information as it relates to your circumstances. Any action you take upon the information provided is strictly at your own risk. This information is not a substitute for, and is not intended to replace, independent professional advice. It is your responsibility to take all safety precautions and to refer to the product manufacturer's instructions or contact a licensed technician, as appropriate.