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The Novice’s Guide to the Thermostats of 2016

Thermostats today have more features than we can count, which can be a little overwhelming when you’re shopping. As the heating and cooling experts, Schneller set out to demystify thermostats through an interview with one of our trained technicians.

Find out what you need & what you need to know when shopping for a smart thermostat. Then, take a look at the first interview in our series: Why It’s Important to Make a Date With Your Plumber.


Schneller Thermostat Guru: Alex

“What are some misconceptions out there about programmable thermostats?”

We usually hear that they are too complicated or they don’t “need” anything that fancy so the customers don’t want to consider installing one because they are honestly a little intimidated by them.

“Can a programmable thermostat really save money?”

Yes and no. Surprisingly, too much of a good thing can be bad. For example, if you set the temperature difference from when you wake up to when you leave for work at a 2-3 degrees temperature difference (ie. 72 down to 69 or 70 while you are away) you will likely save a good deal of money over the long run.

On the flip side, if you set the temperature difference from when you wake up to when you leave for work at 10-12 degrees temperature difference (ie. 72 down to 62-60 while you are away) your system will have to stay on for a VERY long time to make up that temperature difference. 2-3 degrees difference should be attained within the first hour of operation whereas 10-12 degrees would take several hours of continuous run time.

“How ‘fancy’ does a programmable thermostat need to be?”

The thermostats today come in a very wide range of complexity. At one end, you have very basic digital thermostats that have settings for weekdays and weekends. At the other end of the spectrum, you have programmable thermostats that are wifi capable and learn from your day-to-day settings (they can even have gps parameters placed on them so when you come within a certain distance of your home, they change to your desired temperature setpoint.) And, of course, there are many options in between.

“What are the most important features to look for in a programmable thermostat?”

Name-brand thermostats usually carry the best warranties.They also have the best build quality. Name-brand thermostats usually have the best customer support as well. If you are switching from a basic thermostat, especially a non-digital thermostat, you will want to make sure you get a thermostat with either a high-contrast screen or a color display.

“Is a programmable thermostat of any use to apartment dwellers or renters?”

Sometimes. The apartment community has a unique situation where they are usually surrounded with other units. In this case, their insulation values are through the roof compared to a traditional stand-alone home. The temperature inside an apartment may not even change if the renter sets it back while they are away because the heat from the surrounding units will radiate into their unit.

Related Read: Tricks for Raising the Thermostat Temperature and Still Sleeping Cool at Night

“Other than savings, is there a benefit to using a programmable thermostat?”

The programmable thermostats today offer a wide range of “bells and whistles” to customers. Some of the programmable thermostats we install every day have a weather section where the customer can see the 5-day forecast right on their screen. They also have a better display on the screen which makes operating them much easier.

“What is a vacation setting and do I need it?”

This is a quick way to set your thermostat for a desired temperature if you know you are going to be gone for a long time. It is usually a one-touch function that saves you a few steps and will usually display “vacation mode” on the screen.

“What happens if it’s colder than normal, or I get out of my regular schedule on a holiday?”

You can set a temporary temperature override which will stay in effect until the next program time. If you want to keep the temperature steady indefinitely, you need simply press the “Hold” button and the thermostat will keep your new desired temperature until you tell it to go back into its program.

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