Your thermostat serves as the command center for your entire HVAC system. Originally intended as a simple on/off device, modern HVAC controls provide a variety of features designed to enhance comfort and lower utility costs. Purchasing a new thermostat is a relatively inexpensive upgrade that can solve a variety of system performance issues.

Selecting the Right Thermostat

Thermostats generally fall into three categories: manual, programmable and smart devices. Each type of thermostat offers different features and benefits targeted for a specific kind of user.

Manual Thermostats

Traditional manual thermostats are economical and offer basic functionality. New models use a digital processor, and they do not contain any mercury like older analog units. Most manual thermostats require the homeowner to change modes, but advanced devices have an auto-changeover option. Variations are available for heat pumps and two-stage equipment.

Programmable Thermostats

Programmable thermostats were originally introduced back in the 1980s. The concept revolves around maximizing energy savings by raising or lowering the temperature when the building is empty. According to the Department of Energy, a programmable thermostat can save up to 10 percent on annual heating and cooling costs when used properly.

Most units offer separate programs for weekdays and weekends with a varying number of setback options. Older models were often difficult to read and cumbersome to program. However, newer units offer large, color displays and intuitive programming options. Wi-Fi capabilities allow remote access and can control other functions like mechanical ventilators and humidifiers.

Smart Thermostats

The most recent entry into the thermostat space is the smart thermostat. These devices incorporate all the benefits of a programmable thermostat with virtually no requirement for user input. There are basically two approaches to smart thermostat operation. One platform incorporates a variety of temperature, light and movement sensors to track and record the family’s living habits. Over time, the thermostat becomes increasingly accurate as it adjusts the indoor temperature to take advantage of periods when the home is unoccupied.

The other method involves setting up a GPS “fence” around the home. This type of smart thermostat requires each family member to register their cell phone so their movements in and out of the house can be tracked. When the perimeter is broken as the last family member leaves, the thermostat automatically adjusts the temperature to maximize efficiency. When the fence is pierced on the way home, the thermostat changes the temperature back to the original setting for maximum comfort. Some smart thermostats are now capable of controlling other devices like lights, security systems and stereos for a complete home automation experience.

Choosing the Best Thermostat

Thermostats are manufactured for specific system configurations, so it’s important to verify that the brand and model you are considering is compatible with your existing equipment. The professional comfort specialists at Pro Air Heating & Cooling can answer any questions you may have and help you select the perfect thermostat upgrade for your home in Rincon, Pooler, Pembroke, Statesboro, Guyton, GA, Bluffton, SC and the surrounding communities.