Monday, 22 November 2010 13:52
True or false? When you adjust the temperature in our home (whether up or down) and later reheat or cool, the heating and cooling system must work extra hard to reheat or cool the home resulting in no energy savings or more expense. False! Most people think the energy system in their home is working “extra” hard to get the temperature back to normal, thus using more energy. Consumer research has proven that this is not the case. In the past, many people have avoided turning off an energy system or adjusting temperatures while they are away because of this belief. The problem is that no one wants to wake up in the morning and touch that cold floor or arrive home after a hot summer day to a home that feels like you are growing tropical plants inside! Is there an answer? Fortunately, yes, by using automatic and programmable thermostats in your home.
A thermostat is that little device that everyone in the home keeps constantly changing because they are too hot or cold. It is the source of many minor domestic disputes such as, “Honey, I’m freezing. Did you change the thermostat?” A great long-term solution to energy savings and more harmony in the home is the automatic and programmable thermostat. If you are not familiar with these devices, they typically perform one or more of the following functions:
The best ones have a liquid crystal display and back up batteries to avoid resetting the time clock after a power failure. They are simple to operate. The basic price is $25 to $100. Light sensing and occupancy models are more expensive and can be $200 or more. The convenience and cost savings of these devices is well documented and the “extra” benefits are great. Suppose you want your home cool when you arrive home after work. No problem, the thermostat can be set to begin cooling your home an hour before you arrive. Hate to get out from under the covers on a cold morning? No problem! The preset thermostat makes sure everything is just right a few hours before you rise and shine!
What are your choices when making the move to automation? You are in luck! (Unless you do not like too many choices!) Automatic and programmable thermostats come in five types:
Light sensing: This type relies on lighting levels in the home. A photocell detects the amount of light in an area and will reduce the temperature in a heated room by around 10 degrees below the occupied room setting. These are not practical for a home with constant changes in lighting levels but are more suited for office buildings.
Electromechanical: This type is operated manually and has movable parts such as a rotating timer or a lever for night and day settings. The drawback is the limited setting controls and same day settings only.
Digital: This type is the most versatile and offers the best options and most flexibility. Digital thermostats provide custom scheduling and very precise temperature control. Some models are more complicated than others so do your homework and make sure you do not have to be a rocket scientist to set the system!
Occupancy: These thermostats are the simplest to operate. They do not rely on the time of day, but offer a preset “comfort period” up to twelve hours based upon what you need. When your preset comfort period is over, the thermostat resets to your energy saving settings. If simplicity is what you are looking for, then this is your best choice.
Hybrid: This unit combines mechanical with digital to give you the maximum choices. One great advantage is that the hybrid thermostat will work with most heating and cooling systems including heat pumps. Some of the other systems will not work with heat pumps or specialized systems.
A few final considerations when making the choice to use a programmable thermostat:
You should realize a return on your investment in less than four years at the maximum. If you have a heat pump, this option will probably not be a good investment for savings since heat pumps are usually most efficient when a moderate fluctuation level is maintained. There are new programmable thermostats designed specifically for heat pumps.
No more cold mornings, no more sweating when you walk in after work, cost savings, and a new gadget you can show off to the neighbors! Life is good!