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Gone are the days of the thermostats with the glass bubble filled with Mercury. The new T'stats are electronic with energy saving features to help reduce the cost of heating and cooling your home. A thermostat that can "SET-Back or SET Up" your temperature (depending on whether you are in the heating or cooling mode) is called "Programmable" Not all programmable thermostats are the same and the following will explain the differences. Some will provide a 5 and 2 day program. Monday to Friday the same for each day and Saturday / Sunday the same for the weekend. Some will provide a 5, 1 and 1 day program. Monday to Friday the same for each day with Saturday and Sunday able to be programmed separately. There are 7 day stats that can be programmed for each individual day of the week and some that provide 365 day control (Darned if I know why on this one).

Some models will allow for a different level of set-back or set-up twice per day. ie. (when you are at work and when in sleep schedule) All of the new thermostats will allow you to turn the fan in your furnace to the "ON" position for constant air circulation. Some Customers like this option and just as many dislike this feature. The choice is yours at the flick of a switch. With the fan switch in the "ON" position you have the benefit of constant air filtering, and it does even out the temperature difference in multi-level homes between floors and rooms by blending the hot air from one area with cooler air from another area of the home. Your heating and cooling part of the system will function as normal and cycle on and off based upon the temperature set point.

If you feel like a handyman and wish to purchase and install your own thermostat there is no law saying that you can't. The voltage at most thermostats is 24 volts versus the 120 volt power that you would get from a normal electrical outlet in the home. To operate a heating only system you need only 2 wires or conductors. The addition of fan control requires one more conductor and cooling by itself requires 2 conductors. If cooling is on the same system as the heat only 1 extra conductor is required for a total of 4 wires. This is where some handymen get into difficulty as some thermostats that you may purchase from the big box stores or local hardware stores require an extra conductor to power the electronic memory for the programming. Most of these thermostats will still function, but you may have to replace batteries on a regular basis to maintain system operation. The thermostats that you can purchase from the "BOX Stores" are not the same as the ones available to your heating and air conditioning contractor and remember... If you short or damage the thermostat you purchase from the DIY stores you will not get a warranty on the product. Many of the thermostats sold by your contractor have a 5 year part, warranty (labor warranty only 1 year).

Now to explain what is available for the gadget geeks. There are models of thermostats on the market that can provide wireless control of your heating and cooling system that you can carry around the house like your television remote control only unlike trying to find your TV remote when it is misplaced you will have no problem finding your remote thermostat as it has a "locate" button on the base station that when depressed, will make the remote "Beep". The new models can tell you the outdoor temperature via a wireless remote sensor and the temperature of the air returning to your furnace. Certain models will show the set point temperature as well as the room temperature and all are able to be set for Fahrenheit or Celsius temperature readout depending on whether you are "OLD or NEW School". Most of the electronic thermostats of yesteryear required a university degree in computer science to program the features, but the newer models are simple enough for those born in the 1930's that still think "Facebook" is a how to book on applying makeup. In fact the daily operation is so simple that you won't have to even refer to the guide in the cover of the thermostat. Property owners and Company owners like the new thermostats because the can be "Locked Out" on the keyboard so that tenants or staff cannot alter the temperature. The biggest waste of energy is a thermostat that everyone in an office can adjust. The new styles with this lockout feature means that you don't require those big, ugly locking covers mounted over the thermostat. One feature that is really liked by our commercial customers is the model that uses a remote sensor to report the area temperature back to a central thermostat that can be rowed up next to other thermostats for other units in the building. All the thermostats can be grouped in a closet or managers office for control and the remote sensor that is in the space has no buttons, settings or temperature readouts.

There have been systems on the market for years where multiple thermostats can operate one single HVAC unit and provide multiple zones within a building, independent temperature control. These are "VVT" systems that stands for "variable volume and temperature". This style of system has to use the thermostats provided by the manufacturer of the VVT control system and would include a central processing unit and software for the energy management control. Each zone thermostat controls a damper box that opens and closes to regulate the air feeding a zone and also has a "vote" in what mode (heating or cooling) the HVAC unit operates.

There are new systems on the market this year that you can communicate with from your cell phone to turn the system on and off or check the temperature. This is particularly handy for cottage owners that can dial up and turn on furnaces and air conditioners while on route to their summer or winter property.

One system that is still popular on large commercial office and government buildings is a pneumatic thermostat control. These use an air operated thermostat that controls a zone damper on a duct system. Instead of wires running throughout the building there would be a copper air line with a regulated air pressure of approximately 11 pounds pressure that would branch off into plastic lines that connect a pneumatic thermostat to the operator of a zone damper. The air for this type of system is provided by an air compressor in a mechanical room that has accessories to dehydrate the air before sending the pressure to controls that could be damaged by moisture. Honeywell and White Rogers are two manufacturers that have developed "touch screen" technology where the thermostat has no buttons to push or flip. You would simply touch the appropriate word or number on the screen to control the various functions. There is even a Honeywell model with a High Definition viewing screen. Once again, the technology for these thermostats has simplified the operation to the point that almost anyone can operate them without referring to the owners' manual.

For detailed information and part numbers for any of the thermostat systems you could be interested in I would suggest the web site for Honeywell easily located by a Google search and when on the site click on the heading for thermostats.


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