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What to Know When Replacing a Home Thermostat

energy efficiency

What to Know When Replacing a Home Thermostat Blog Feature
Eric Garcia

By: Eric Garcia on December 30th, 2019

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It was never really exciting to shop for a new thermostat for your home, until now.

We all remember the original manual dial thermostat that was the norm in our grandparents' home back in the day. Then came a real game-changer, the programmable thermostat, that helped us control temperatures automatically to improve our energy efficiency. 

Now, thermostats have become popular smart home gadgets, being controlled with our phones and voice. 

No matter the type of thermostat you are looking to buy for your home, it is a critical component to keeping your home a comfortable temperature and your heating and cooling bills in check. 

With so many thermostats on the market and plenty of advanced settings to overwhelm anyone, I’m going to share a few basic things you should know when replacing a home thermostat including the types of thermostats to consider, the best temperature to set your thermostat, and where to put the thermostat in your house.

How to Choose the Right Thermostat for Your Home

With all the choices out there you’ve probably been thinking, “How do I know which thermostat to buy?”

Let me share the main types of thermostats so you can decide which one best fits your needs and budget.

Manual Thermostat

The most basic type of thermostat is the old-style dial or digital display where you manually adjust the temperature. 

These are the least expensive thermostats and are good when you are home a lot and desire a consistent, fixed temperature.

Programmable Thermostat

The programmable thermostat will give you more control over your home temperature at different times of the day. 

Just schedule your desired temperature when you are home, lower the temperature automatically when you are typically away - like at school or work - which keeps everyone comfortable while lowering energy bills.

Wi-Fi Thermostat

The wi-fi thermostat connects to your home’s Internet to allow you to remotely monitor and control your home’s heating and cooling systems. 

This gives you the flexibility to monitor and change your thermostat settings on your phone. 

Smart Thermostat

The smart thermostat integrates with other home automation products, like Amazon Alexa and Google Home, and can also learn your habits to automatically adjust settings as part of your home automation system, providing optimal home comfort and energy efficiency.

From a manual to smart thermostat, as you move down this list its functionality  and cost increases.

Based on how tech-savvy you are, how much you want to spend, and how much you want your home thermostat to do, you can decide on the specific type of thermostat to meet your family’s needs. You can then ask around for recommendations, or read reviews online, to determine the best brand and model for you.

Personally, I love the new smart thermostats that track your energy usage month over month and give you recommendations to best control your comfort and energy efficiency. 

Based on your home’s size, past energy consumption, and your family’s daily habits, it might recommend to turn the temperature up or down between certain hours of the day, or even do it for you automatically.

I know it's more expensive than the thermostats we've been using for many years, but there are a ton of advantages to these and your utility provider may even offer rebates for upgrading to a smart thermostat. It’s definitely worth checking out.

Thermostat Temperature Settings

What is the best temperature to set the thermostat in winter? What about the summer, or when you are gone to work or sleeping?

These are great questions that have answers as unique as the people asking them.

It has been said that you can save between 1 percent and 3 percent on heating costs for every degree you lower the thermostat. My suggestion is to do some experimenting to figure out what your ideal thermostat temperature setting is.

Let’s say it’s winter and you live in a cold-weather climate like Michigan. Try setting the thermostat at 68 degrees for a day and see what your family thinks. 

Were they comfortable or too cold? Based on the feedback try adjusting up or down a degree or two the next day and do the same experiment over again. 

In a few days, you should land on a temperature that is right for your family that everyone can live with comfortably. Obviously, you don't want to be miserable in your house, but at the same time, you do want to be conscious and not overusing your heating and cooling equipment which your monthly energy bill will punish you for.

Where to Put the Thermostat in Your House

An ideal location for the thermostat should be centralized in the home, not inline with any registers. 

Your thermostat won’t work as planned if there is hot or cold air blowing right at the thermostat, or if it is located in a side room away from the main living area.

Many people don’t realize but where to place a thermostat in a house is really important as that’s going to affect the reading, and how often it turns on your heating and cooling equipment. Because of this you don't want the reading to be affected by anything other than the ambient temperature inside the house.

Replace Your Home Thermostat with Confidence

The process of replacing your home thermostat can be as simple or complex as you desire. 

After really understanding what is available, it is best to decide on the type of thermostat that is best for you, experiment with the temperature, and ensure it is placed in the right location in your home for a great experience. 

If you happen to notice that your furnace or air conditioner is running the entire time when you have your thermostat set at your ideal temperature, then cold or warm outside air may be finding its way into your home - overworking your mechanicals and increasing your energy bills. 

This could be a sign of poor insulation in your walls, crawl space, basement, or attic. Learn more about some of the common signs of poor insulation by downloading our free checklist below.

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About Eric Garcia

Eric brings his knowledge and training in building science, training in spray and injection foams from the manufacturers, more than 8 years installing foam insulation, as well as selling and managing in the foam insulation industry. He is also BPI and Dale Carnegie certified and has taken several building science courses including air sealing and building envelope. Eric’s responsibilities include overseeing and giving support to all of the branches of the RetroFoam of Michigan company, office, estimates, and installs. He is also the Professor of Foam on our educational YouTube series Foam University. Even when Eric is off he is usually still “working” or thinking about work, but when he can get away he enjoys camping, hiking, hunting, and woodwork.