Types of Home Thermostats and Matching the Right Equipment

A home thermostat directs the furnace and/or cooling system when to turn on and off as an indoor space’s temperature fluctuates. As it impacts both comfort and energy use, this is one important job.

Types of Thermostats

Thermostats may differ in two ways – the way they work and the equipment they are designed to work with. The two key technologies involved are electronic and electromechanical. Electromechanical and electronic thermostats are both compatible with air conditioners, as well as with all heating systems powered by oil and gas, electricity and even water. Electronic thermostats though are more powerful, thanks to an electronic sensing element that is more receptive to temperature ups and downs (as opposed to bi-metal sensors).

With a programmable electronic model, you will be able to set room temperature such that, in winter, the temperature in your home can decrease to a reasonably low level- around 60 degrees, for instance – while you sleep in the night, and then go up to a comfortable 70 degrees as you rise the following morning. Or, if you leave the home empty during the day, you can set the thermostat so that the house cools down as you drive off to work, and warms up to a comfortable temperature by the time you’re home in the evening. And so on.

A programmable thermostat is helpful for those who want to save energy. The rule of thumb is, for every degree a thermostat is turned down within 24 hours, 3 percent of energy consumption is saved. Thus, if you lower the temperature from 70 degrees to 61 degrees within eight hours nightly, your energy savings can reach at least 9 percent. If you do the same at daytime, you can enjoy double the savings.
The Right Thermostat for the Right Equipment

As you buy a thermostat, don’t forget to consider the kind of equipment it’s intended to control. There are types that are only meant for furnaces, while others can work with furnaces as well as air conditioners, heat pumps, or other equipment with multi-stage operations where the requirement for heating and cooling rises.

There are also thermostats that are made with adjustments – for example, wires that are connected in configurations that fit the equipment, or simply a small switch at the back – so they can adjust to the systems they must work with.

A complex electronic heat-pump thermostat makes automatic calculations as to when the heat must come on so that a room’s temperature is raised up to the programmed point. It makes the heat pump go from 60 to 61 degrees, then from 61 to 62, and so forth. This fools the electric auxiliary heat into believing it must remain off.

Finally, zoned heating systems that increase or decrease temperatures in several rooms in a home, depending on the needs of such rooms, must use high-tech programmable electronic thermostats that allow them to work with two or more zones. These systems can actually fine-tune your settings based on your comfort requirements.