One way homeowners seek to extract most energy units from their home-energy dollars is by investing in a state-of-the-art programmable thermostat. These smart gadgets can be programmed to save money and energy by adjusting the temperature at home. The evidence shows, however, that many owners don’t program their programmable thermostats because they either find controls confusing or they simply overlook this activity.
Having programmable thermostats non-programmed wastes more money that their owners bargained for. What’s more important, if programmable thermostats aren’t used the way they’re intended, homes with programmable thermostats will use more energy than homes without them.
A best validation of this was the decision of the federal government three years ago that abolished the entire programmable thermostat category from their popular Energy Star program. The clarification? The EPA said that the estimated potential of programmable thermostats was significantly higher than their achieved energy savings.
“EPA has been unable to confirm any improvements in terms of the savings delivered by programmable thermostats and has no credible basis for continuing to extend the current Energy Star specification.”
Why is that? The EPA Energy Star program refers to data that programmable thermostats didn’t achieve the net energy savings and environmental benefits. The future success of the program may depend on the effectiveness of the efforts that educate people on proper use of thermostats.
It is important to note that EPA isn’t advising people against owing a programmable thermostat. The reality is far from that. EPA conveys its position by asking potential buyers of thermostats to first establish whether they need them at all. It further assists them in the choosing and correct handling of PTs.
According to EPA, programmable thermostats come with many advanced features that we should look for. But let’s put these aside for one moment.
The most important thing, EPA advises, is to think about our own lifestyle. Sleek design and cool features do matter, but shopping for a thermostat starts by looking at our habits: daily, weekly and seasonal. You should ask yourself: What is my schedule? When do I get off work? Am I often away from home for regular periods of time?
Programmable Thermostats: Three Models
Depending on your answers one of these three models will fit your needs: the 7-day, the 5+2-day, or the 5-1-1-day.
Households which daily schedule tends to change on some days will benefit from 7-day PT. You or your children may come home earlier on certain days. The 7-day will give you the flexibility of setting different programs and up to six temperature periods per day each day in a week.
The second one (5+2) is for families that have the same weekday schedule, and a different one on weekends.
5+1+1. The family schedule for this one is the same as for the 5+2. With this model, however, weekend days (Saturday and Sunday) can be independently programmed.
A word of warning: EPA advises against purchasing of programmable thermostat if you are not away from home during set periods of time throughout the week. If you are at home all day (say, you work from home) this gadget will not save you much energy and you might be better off with your ceiling fan only.
Programmable Thermostats: Useful Features
Depending on the model, a programmable thermostat can have many remarkable features. Lets visit some of them:
This feature enables you to control your home’s temperature from your laptop or computer of you connect your PT to Wi-Fi. This feature enables you to observe and analyze your heating/cooling schedule and adjust your temperature. Your device can link to weather services and send information to your online account, so you can view this information and adjust your temperature accordingly. A popular Nest thermostat comes with this feature.
This feature should be activated before you leave for your vacation. Your home will stay at the desired temperature until you return.
Air Filter Indicator
PTs may also have a programmable air filter change reminder. It calculates the accumulated run-time of the system, reminding the owner when it is time to change the filter. The feature may display the run-time either as a total of both cooling and heating or displaying the run-time separately.
This control senses the amount of time it will take to reach the next desired temperature, starting the cycle in advance to let the system achieve the accurate temperature at the preferred time.
Portable Comfort Control
In many homes, especially larger homes, there’s an enormous difference between the temperature at the thermostat and in remote rooms. If you bring the controller to any room, the PT will ensure that the room is heated to the exact temperature of your choosing, saving you energy-dollars.
Digital, backlit display
This display allows easy reading, even in rooms that are dimly lit.
This feature enables direct interaction with your thermostat simplifying its operation and use.
Voice and/or phone programming
This feature is particularly useful for visually impaired, disabled or anyone who has trouble seeing and operating regular PT.
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