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5 Money-Saving Features to Look For in New Thermostats

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Last Updated on June 25, 2015



Does your building still have the old dial thermostats? If you’re looking for a way to save money on your energy bills, consider upgrading to new thermostats with programming capabilities. It’s a relatively low cost way to cut expenses on your heating and cooling bills without sacrificing comfort. Today’s new thermostats even provide convenience and notification features that make it even easier to save money.

How much can you save? According to the US Department of Energy, you can save between 5 and 15% on your heating bill when you set back your building’s thermostats by 10 to 15 degrees during the periods when your space is unoccupied. Related article: 15 Tips to Keep Your Energy Bills From Skyrocketing This Summer.

But with so many new thermostat models out there, how do you choose the new thermostat that’s right for you? Look for the following features to get the most benefit from your investment:

1. Compatibility with your heating and cooling systems

First and foremost, make sure the new thermostats you choose for your space are compatible with the type of heating and cooling systems you have in place. For example, heat pump systems require control systems using specific algorithms to make them cost-effective. Electric baseboard heat requires thermostats than can control 120-volt or 240-volt circuits. Steam boilers and radiant floor heat can be slow to respond, so they need new thermostats that can compensate for the slow performance of the equipment and determine the best time to turn it on.

When upgrading and replacing an HVAC system, make sure to upgrade your thermostats as well, since the new system may have different requirements. Ask your HVAC installer for a recommendation.

2. Ability to program for the precise heating and cooling needs of your space

Depending on the hours you keep in your business, you can choose from models with various programming options for different schedules.

  • If yours is an office environment that’s typically open Monday through Friday and closed weekends, you probably need a 5+2 model, which allows you to set one schedule for weekdays and another for weekends.
  • If you have a store that’s open weekdays and Saturdays, but closed Sundays, you may choose a 5-1-1 model, which allows a different schedule for weekdays, for Saturday, and for Sundays.
  • If your business is open every day, or you have different hours every day, you’ll definitely benefit from 7-day thermostats that allow precise control with different setting for every day of the week.

3. Remote access

If you have a small business, you may find that you often run out of the office and forget to adjust the thermostat. It may be impossible to program for all the times you’re in and out.

If your schedule changes frequently, take advantage of new thermostats that can be controlled by phone or with Wifi apps. Also known as Smart Thermostats, you can control these models via your smart phone, tablet or laptop computer to avoid wasting energy heating and cooling an empty office. Some can even automatically adjust the set temperature when you’re away.

4. Precision displays and security

With the old dial thermostats, it’s often impossible to set a precise temperature. It’s also easy for building occupants to nudge the setting up or down without anyone noticing. You’ll notice when you get your utility bill!

With new digital controls, you can set to an exact temperature which will be maintained to within 2 degrees, and you can also see immediately if the setting has been changed. If you are a landlord, you can also purchase lockable and tamper-proof new thermostats that can’t be changed by tenants or other unauthorized building occupants.

5. System maintenance alerts

Many new thermostats alert you or display an indicator when it’s time to change the air filters on your furnace or air conditioner. This can be a lifesaver for your heating and cooling equipment, since dirty filters can lead to poor performance and breakdowns.

Some new thermostats can even alert you when your heating and cooling equipment is malfunctioning. When something goes wrong, it’s always better to know sooner rather than later, so you can get HVAC service to repair the problem before you’re stuck without heat.

*Installation Tip for New Thermostats

Once you’ve selected your programmable new thermostats, keep in mind that the right thermostat locations can also save you money. All thermostats should be installed on interior walls and away from sunlight, windows and drafts. Also make sure thermostats are not blocked by furniture or equipment.

Replacing your thermostats is just one way you can save money with HVAC maintenance. Want to learn more and save more? Grab a copy of our free guide to Calculating the Hidden Costs of Poor HVAC Maintenance.
Get the guide to understanding your HVAC System's hidden costs.