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How to Use the Right Thermostat to Improve Energy Efficiency

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  • April 17, 2019

Homeowners are constantly battling to improve energy efficiency year-round. However, it doesn’t have to be this way. All it takes to have home comfort and an energy-efficient home is the right thermostat and setting. This article will delve into the information that you need to know, including the various thermostats available, how to choose the right one for your home, and how to use a programmable thermostat.

Manual, Programmable, and Smart Thermostats

Your home’s control system, otherwise known as your thermostat, regulates the amount of air and/or heat distributed throughout the home. There are three primary types: manual, programmable, and smart.

Manual Thermostats – A home thermostat can be a simple unit that you work manually. Think about those old-timey round models that were installed on the walls in older homes. The needle would need to be moved up and down to the temperature that you would want your home to be. These are very economical, and the controls were simple, but in terms of saving energy, they were very limited. These thermostats are best-suited for homes with people at home all or most of the time and like the home at a set temperature.

Programmable Thermostats – These thermostats are much more sophisticated in nature, as they permit the user to input schedules for each day of the week. Some will even allow you to adjust the weekend separately, if necessary. Programmable thermostats can allow you to save significantly on energy costs because it adjusts the home’s temperature throughout the day.

Smart Thermostats – These models are the most sophisticated units of them all. They are Wi-Fi enabled so that they can be accessed from various forms of technology like your computer, tablet, or smartphone. They have been proven to boost energy efficiency.

It is important for you to keep in mind that the particular thermostat model that you choose should be compatible with your HVAC system. But how do you know if it is compatible or not?

First, you need to determine the type of HVAC system that you have. Essentially, there are three types of thermostats that you can choose from, including:

  • Low-Voltage Systems – These are the most common HVAC systems on the market, and they only require 24V electrical power supply. As a general rule, the majority of thermostats will operate fine with these systems.
  • High-Voltage or Direct-Line Systems – These systems utilize a 110V or 240V electrical power supply. Usually, these systems are baseboards or similar electrical heating systems. They warrant special attention when it comes to thermostats, as not all when work with these types of systems. Keep in mind that direct-line voltage is often used to power the thermostat in older homes.
  • 24 Millivolt Systems – These systems generally are fueled by oil or gas and don’t utilize electricity, and can be floor or wall systems.

There are also a couple of different stages of HVAC systems that you need to be familiar with.

  • Stage One – This type of system requires that the units all work at full capacity, or they just don’t work.
  • Stage Two – This type of system means that it can heat and cool on either low or high speeds.

Your thermostat should be labeled with at least one of the following:

  • Works with Stage One Heating or Cooling – This means that it can be used when you have separate HAVC units.
  • Works with Stage Two and/or Multi-Stage Heating or Cooling – This means that it can be used with HVAC units with low and high speeds.
  • Works with Direct-Line Voltage – This means that a 110V or 240V direct power source will be necessary for the thermostat to operate.
  • Works with 24M Millivolt – This means that it can be used with a wall-mounted or floor furnace or fireplace.
  • Zoned HVAC – Heating and/or cooling processes are controlled individually in separate areas from the HVAC system.

With this information, you can make a well-informed decision when choosing your home’s thermostat. A description should be included on the packaging from the manufacturer, which will help you in your decision-making process.

Now, if you have a low-voltage system and decide that you want a programmable thermostat because of its benefits, you will need to know how to use it to achieve the cost savings it can offer you.

How To Improve Energy Efficiency And Save Money with a Programmable Thermostat

Making the decision to install a programmable thermostat in your home is a wise one as it will allow you to schedule a heating and cooling program without ever having to remember to manually alter the temperature settings at any time throughout the day.

The majority of programmable thermostats have the capability of automatically adjusting the temperature in the home as many as six or more times a day. The automatic settings can be manually overridden, if necessary, at any time without even interrupting your already-set programming for the day or week.

Below are the steps you need to take to get your home set up with a programmable thermostat.

  1. Ensure the thermostat is fully compatible with your home’s existing HVAC system.
  2. Select the options that you would like for your home’s programming.
  3. a. Program your thermostat for a 7-day, 5-2 day, 5-1-1 day, or 1-week schedule
    b. Depending on the exact capabilities of your thermostat, choose among the following programming options:
  • 7-Day Thermostat – This particular thermostat model provides a setting for each day of the week, and it is the most flexible of all thermostat models. There is no need to manually adjust thermostat settings. Each day, there are four periods of programming, which is useful for households with changing schedules on a daily and weekend basis.
  • 5-1-1 Day Thermostat – This type of thermostat allows is a bit less flexible than the 7-day thermostat model, but it can be particularly useful to most families. You enter one setting for weekdays, and then you have separate schedules for both Saturday and Sunday. Again, four daily periods of programming are available.
  • 5-2 Day Thermostat – This thermostat model allows for weekdays to have one schedule and weekends to have one schedule. Though this model is not nearly as flexible as other styles, it is still entirely possible to save energy.
  • 1-Week Thermostat – This thermostat is the least flexible and energy-efficient of all the models, as it only permits one set schedule for the entire week, day in and day out.
  1. Once you have selected the program for your thermostat, you need to begin programming the thermostat.
  • Clock – Begin by setting the clock, which can usually be done with the up and down arrows.
  • Set Day – Find the day of the week that you would like to start programming.
  • System – Begin programming for heating/cooling.
  • Set Schedule – Look for the “wake” and “leave” functions so that you understand what you are setting. There will also be a “return” function, which is what you will use when you are back home. There is also a “sleep” function that can be used when you are sleeping. These features are all beneficial and help to save energy.
  1. Advanced Settings – If you are interested in your system automatically switching from heating to cooling and vice versa, then check out this video.
  2. Take time to look over the features that you have set to ensure that they are accurate. In addition, familiarize yourself with all of the other features of the programmable thermostat, particularly the low battery indicator. When this warning light illuminates, it means that a replacement is necessary as soon as possible to avoid the thermostat losing power. If the thermostat loses power, you will likely lose all of your pre-set programming. So, as soon as you see that low battery warning light illuminate, replace the batteries immediately.


With the right thermostat installed in your home, it is possible to maintain home comfort and minimize energy usage. Just make sure that the thermostat chosen is fully compatible with your HVAC system. In addition, keep in mind how you plan to program the thermostat and use its functions, as this will play a role in the thermostat that you choose for your home as well.

For more information, don’t hesitate to contact the professionals at Air Degree. We are happy to assist you in any way that we can.

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