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The Difference Between Smart & Programmable Thermostats

Smart VS Programmable Thermostats
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Imagine arriving home from a sweltering day spent in the Florida climate, you open up the front door and walk in to what feels like a furnace. This could be a sign that there may be something wrong with your thermostat which is responsible for regulating the temperature of the room as desired. In this instance you may need an emergency AC repair job, or you may need to get a new AC system. This is also a good time to consider choosing a thermostat which preempts your arrival home, cooling the space before you walk in. These considerations beg the question – how do you choose between a smart vs programmable thermostat?

Programmable Thermostat 

A programmable thermostat is designed to follow a schedule, adjusting the temperature according to a series of set of programed settings. Some benefits of a programmable thermostat include;

  • Massive improvement in energy efficiency, decreasing cost of energy bills.
  • A consistent temperature without the fuss of timeous adjusting.
  • Optimize your AC system as workload is reduced.

According to the U.S Department of Energy, homeowners can save up to 10% on heating and cooling every year simply by setting the thermostat to a pre-set schedule. Not only do programmable thermostats present an opportunity to save money when used effectively, but they also offer convenience of optimized temperature. They remove the fuss of having to change the temperature manually as temperatures drop in the evenings, or as people routinely leave the house during the day.

Smart Thermostat 

A smart thermostat also controls the temperature of the home according to a schedule; however, it offers additional features such as sensors and WiFi connectivity, allowing you to turn your AC on or off remotely. These features manifest in the following benefits;

  • Temperature control is more efficient, offering the opportunity to save money.
  • One variety has the ability to learn from behavior and adjusts accordingly.
  • Another variety allows for remote management and programming based on internet connectivity.
  • They give insight into how much energy you are using.

The intention of a smart thermostat is to make the temperature control of rooms in the home more efficient. As the thermostat learns your behavior, tracks GPS or is controlled remotely, the hope is that less energy is used when not needed. The true value of smart thermostats is felt if you keep an irregular routine and deviate from a set schedule – which would be when a programmable thermostat is ideal.

The value of a smart thermostat is truly felt over a longer period of time. If you intend to stay in a certain home for a while, or plan to take it with you if you move, then a smart thermostat is a viable option. This is largely due to the fact that smart thermostats are slightly more expensive and are considered an investment and time is needed to pay the investment off. If you choose to make the investment, it is recommended that you further invest in professional installation with one of Art Plumbing, Air Conditioning & Electric’s AC technicians as most brands have detailed installation instructions.

Thermostat Installation

Before deciding to install a smart thermostat, there are a few things to be aware of. Firstly, you need to be sure that your system is low voltage. Smart thermostats are only compatible with low voltage HVAC systems of 24v.

One also needs to be sure that you have enough wires. Modern thermostats require a C-wire to assist with new electronic components such as WiFi connectivity and back-lit screens. Previously, older thermostats only required a single wire to deliver power to the system. There may or may not be an existing C-wire installed in your system. A professional electrician will be able to identify whether or not the C-wire exists, and attend to the several options of installing one if it does not.

Both a programmable thermostat and smart thermostat have the potential to be more energy efficient, save on your electrical bill and reduce the hassle of manual adjustments. Give us a call today to find out more about upgrading your thermostat.


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