- How do electromechanical, manual, and programmable thermostats differ?
Electromechanical – or manual – thermostats are the old-fashioned mercury units that have internal coils to expand or contract in response to temperature change. This type is becoming obsolete for two reasons: digital thermostats are able to more accurately register and respond to temperature changes, and the purchase of products containing mercury has been restricted or banned in many states. However, manual thermostats remain popular due to their low cost, the familiarity of their controls’ design, and the ease of their use.
Manual digital thermostats use an electronic temperature sensor to register changes in the room temperature that then compare these changes with the settings selected by the user. If there is a difference between the room temperature and the set temperature, a command is sent to the heating or cooling system that action is needed. For this type of unit, you will still have to physically adjust the setting of your preferences whenever you would like to adjust the room temperature.
Programmable digital thermostats are an upgrade from the digital manual thermostats as they are far more convenient and can help save energy costs. Once you program the thermostat to fit your lifestyle and schedule, all you have to do is relax and let it do all the work. To stay comfortable and save energy year-round, you simply must program the temperatures into the memory of the unit, along with the times of day that you would like the changes to occur. For example, you can set a thermostat to a comfortable temperature for when you wake up in the morning, have it go into energy-conservation mode – while you are away at work, and then have a temperature set to go before you return home! You only need to program your thermostat once – until your season, schedule, or lifestyle changes.
- Can a programmable thermostat be used to replace an existing conventional thermostat?
Yes, programmable thermostats can be used to replace most conventional low voltage and millivolt thermostats. The same wires used for installation of conventional mechanical thermostats are used for installation of programmable electronic thermostats.
- Can programmable thermostats really save energy?
Yes, programmable thermostats can save energy and save you money on utility bills. According to the the U.S. Department of Energy, a programmable thermostat can reduce heating costs by up to 35% and cooling costs by up to 25%. Your savings will largely depend on the length of your energy saving program periods and the temperatures set. For example, an energy saving period of 10 hours with the temperature set back 10° will save more than a 5 hour energy saving period with the temperature set back 5°.
- What is a cycle rate?
Your thermostat is designed to control temperature to +/- 1 F, the cycle rate setting is one factory that helps the thermostat maintain your temperature setting. How often your heat turns on and off depends on may factors including the type of heating system you have as well as how much your system needs to run to maintain your temperature setting (in other words, how cool or cold it is outside). A typical forced air system will cycle about five times in an hour, this is normal. A typical hot water system would cycle less then that. Every heating system type will deliver heat to the house at a slightly different rate. Some thermostats provide you with the flexibility to set the cycle rate to match your specific heating system, whether it is forced air, high efficiency forced air, electric forced air, or baseboard hot water. Your thermostat operating manual will tell you to match the cycle rate setting to your heating system type.
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