Thermostats To Control the Temperature and Your Energy Bill
This summer (2022), there are areas of the United States that are experiencing record heat waves, both in terms of the temperatures reached, as well as the duration of the heat wave. (For example, Wichita Falls, Texas reached a record 115 ℉!) Your house is your refuge to escape from such extreme heat. A programmable thermostat can ensure that your home is exactly the temperature that you want, as soon as you walk in the door.
But that’s only the start of the capabilities of today’s thermostats. Controlling the thermostat with a phone app, or even with verbal commands using Alexa or Siri is now pretty much standard. And there are thermostats that can sense when there is someone in the house who needs to be comfortable. They’ll also sense when you open a door or window and shut down so that the HVAC system won’t have to work so hard. We’ll go through some of the options available in the Best Reviews Guide list of the best thermostats. By turning the air conditioning on only when you need it, a smart thermostat can save significantly on your energy bill!
Types of Thermostats
Looking at the Best Reviews Guide list of the best thermostats, you’ll see that there are three main types:
Programmable Thermostats: These thermostats have a digital display with control buttons, or a touchscreen, to allow you to control the time and temperature that your cooling or heating system goes on and off. An example is the Honeywell Home 7-Day Programmable Touchscreen Thermostat.
Honeywell Home 7-Day Programmable Touchscreen Thermostat
Smart Thermostats: You can get a “smart” device version of almost everything nowadays, and thermostats are no different. Honeywell makes a smart thermostat, the Honeywell Home T5 Smart Thermostat, that can be programmed via WiFi as well as the touchscreen. (The touchscreen looks identical to the above Honeywell thermostat, just that this also has a WiFi symbol in the upper right corner.)
Honeywell Home T5 Smart Thermostat
Learning Thermostats: There are also “learning thermostats”, that can adjust the temperature of a room after you leave. They “learn” your living habits, and adjust the temperature accordingly. (This gives you even greater energy savings over a regular programmable thermostat since it will heat and cool only when it knows there’s someone there who needs it. The savings amount to as much as 15% a year.) An example is the Google Store Google Nest Learning Thermostat. When installing the Google Nest thermostat, you’ll plug in your zip code, so that it’ll be familiar with the weather in your area. You also select if you’re in a single-family or multi-family home, apartment, or business, and particulars about your HVAC system. It adjusts everything automatically!
Google Store Google Nest Learning Thermostat
What reviewers say
Here’s what customers say about their choice of thermostat:
Labels for the wires: It’s important to label the wires correctly in order to properly install the new thermostat. Some companies, like Google Nest, provide handy labels that you attach to each wire. They also provide a screwdriver, in the event that you need it for the installation.
App helps with the installation: When you buy a smart thermostat that can be controlled by a phone app, the app will step you through the installation process. It will help you identify the “C” wire. One customer found that his “C” wire was unused by his previous thermostat. Once he identified it, his smart thermostat received power and worked flawlessly.
Energy reports: The beauty of these thermostats is that they can report on your energy usage, and help you be comfortable in your home in the most energy-efficient way possible. These smart thermostats will provide energy reports to your phone app, as well as alert you if there is a malfunction.
Here are some features of the best thermostats, which may help you decide on one model over another:
Accessories for voice commands: Some thermostats advertise that they’re compatible with Alexa or Siri. But there’s no speaker or microphone on the thermostat. For voice control, you’ll have to purchase an Amazon Echo speaker and pair it with the thermostat.
Other accessories: The Honeywell Home T9 WiFi Smart Thermostat comes with additional sensors that you install in other rooms in your home so that it will set the temperature correctly there. They also provide options for installing an air filter, light switch, and air filter!
Rebate from electric company: Some utility companies give you a rebate towards the purchase of an energy-saving device. You enter your zip code upon purchase of the thermostat and check if your electricity provider has a rebate for the product. For example, it can be possible to purchase the Amazon Smart Thermostat (at a $59.99 value) for as little as $5 after you receive the rebate!
Senses open windows and doors: You don’t want to waste electricity by heating or cooling your home when the window is open. There are thermostats that can sense a window or door being open, such as the ecobee Smart Thermostat with voice control. (The thermostat includes a SmartSensor to enable this feature.)
Installation: Many of the thermostat options that you’ll see require that you have access to a C-wire in your home. The C-wire is connected to a low-voltage 24V heating system in most houses nowadays, to supply power to your current thermostat. (It is typically a blue wire, among 5 wires connected to your present thermostat. It may be behind your old thermostat. If you see that your present thermostat is for a 110 - 120 V system, or if it is connected by stranded wires, that’s a high-voltage heating system, and there’s no C-wire option. You mustn’t connect a low-voltage thermostat in such a system.) If your home is compatible, wiring your new thermostat is as simple as just labeling the wires, disconnecting them from your old thermostat, and connecting them to your new thermostat.
We took a brief look at programmable and smart thermostats available on the market nowadays. They may be a challenge at first to install correctly, and there is a learning curve to get them to control your HVAC system the way you want. But they are a worthwhile investment since a $150 thermostat can save you 25% from your energy bill! Look over the Best Reviews Guide list of thermostats–you’re sure to find one that suits your home!