Thermostat Smackdown: Programmable vs. Smart Thermostats
There are a few entirely manual Honeywell dial thermostats lingering about out there, but as 2019 bears down on us, we’re seeing fewer and fewer of them. While old-school homeowners may feel warmly nostalgic for the simple, iconic design, we install fewer and fewer of them. (Which makes sense as they’re mercury-switch thermostats, and they’re illegal in eight states and 12 states have strict recycling laws.)
Thankfully, digital programmable thermostats and smart thermostats have come a long way, making it easier (and a little cheaper) to stay comfortable.
How much money can a digital programmable or smart thermostat save you? Well, it all depends on how frugal you want to be, but according to energy.gov, “You can save as much as 10% a year on heating and cooling by simply turning your thermostat back 7°-10°F for 8 hours a day from its normal setting. The percentage of savings from setback is greater for buildings in milder climates than for those in more severe climates.”
When a thermostat is programmed properly (and when your temperatures are set for optimal efficiency) you’ll ultimately reduce wear and tear on your heating and cooling equipment. It stands to reason that if your air conditioner or furnace is running less, it’ll last longer!
Not only that, but when you program your thermostat to bring your home’s temperature to a nice and warm (or cool, if you’re reading this in July) temperature just prior to your return from work or school, it makes the day just a little brighter. No matter what’s happening out there weather-wise.
Benefits of Digital Programmable Thermostats
We’ll be honest, we have a pretty big soft spot for conventional programmable thermostats. You’ll enjoy just about all of the energy-saving benefits of having a smart thermostat but at a fraction of the initial cost.
If you stick to a pretty regular schedule each day and if you don’t need your thermostat to tell you what the outdoor temperature is (you have a phone for that, right?), then a programmable unit may be the best choice for you. Our go-to is the Honeywell T4.
A programmable thermostat allows you to adjust the times your heating or air conditioning unit runs, according to a pre-set schedule and a predetermined temperature. Modern programmable thermostats can store and repeat multiple daily settings (up to six or more temperature settings a day) and allow you to override the setting manually for those days when you’re home with a sick kid or indulging in a rare “working-from-home” kind of day.
A word of caution: programmable thermostats are not always universal. Make sure the thermostat you’re considering is compatible with your HVAC equipment. If you’re not sure, give us a call. If you’re not the handy type, you may want to consider hiring a professional, anyway.
Lastly, and most obviously, programmable thermostats only work when they are programmed. We’ll also take care of that, with your input, if you’d like. We like pushing buttons.
Benefits of Smart Thermostats
You’ll enjoy all the benefits of a programmable thermostat, and then some. Smart thermostats are a solid choice for technologically- and environmentally-inclined users. If you want Alexa or Siri to play nicely with your thermostat, you’ll need a smart one. If you like accessing your thermostat from your phone and you like data, then you’ll want a smart one. If you really are a member of the gig economy and you really do work from home, then your schedule is probably pretty erratic. If that’s the case — and you don’t mind a thermostat that’s smarter than you are — then smart’s the way to go.
Smart models like the Honeywell Lyric T5, Nest Learning Thermostat, and the Ecobee4, for example, all have wifi integration, web and mobile apps, and sensors that can tell whether or not you’re home.
Many smart thermostats allow you to input the basic parameters for your schedule, kind of like a programmable model, but they also have the ability to learn your schedule over time and adapt automatically to changing patterns. Kind of creepy. Kind of handy.
Not sure which thermostat you need but know that you need a new one? We’ll surely have an opinion, give us a call at 615-576-0742.