A Guide to deciding on a Replacement Thermostat

Are you looking for a new thermostat?


Regarding these 3 steps to finding a thermostat replacement:

  1. Choose the type of thermostat you want
  2. Be certain it works within your home and HVAC equipment
  3. Contact a professional to install it


Step #1: Choose the type of thermostat you want

There are 3 main types of thermostats

Manual thermostats

These are the most common type of thermostat and they are considered mechanical or non-programmable thermostats. You have manually to turn your HVAC on and off and control the temperature.

There are 2 types of manual thermostats for you to buy:

  • Digital, which use arrow buttons to control temperature
  • Analog, which have a dial to change temperature

Unfortunately, some models of manual thermostats cannot give you the exact temperature control. Some manual thermostats have about a +/- 3° differential, while other types of thermostats only have a +/- 1° differential.


Programmable thermostats

Programmable thermostats are programmed to save you money on your energy bills. According to Energy.gov, programmable thermostats can save you up to $180 per year in lower energy bills.

For example, if your week consists of 5 work days for 8 hours, this means 40 hours every week you have the opportunity to dial back your AC or heating system to save you money. Yes you can turn your HVAC system off with a manual thermostat, but this means you’ll ultimately come home to bad temperatures.

A programmable thermostat can fix this problem by telling your HVAC system when to turn on/off and to what temperature. This way you don’t have to do it manually.

Here’s how it’s done:

If you leave your house at 8 am you can program your thermostat to automatically raise or lower your home’s temperature by 10° right at 8 am. This will allow you to set it to automatically return to better temperatures at 5:30 pm, so that the house is good when you return home.

Smart thermostats

Smart thermostats are programmable thermostats that you can control from your computer, tablet or phone. This can allow you to adjust your home’s temperature automatically. They are the most expensive, but they have the best comfort features and save you money every month on your utility bills.

Comfort features you can find on some programmable thermostats are:

  • Touch screen displays
  • Voice instructions and notifications
  • Dirty air filter alerts
  • Multiple programmable schedules (weekday, weekend, vacation, etc.)
  • Schedule “learning” capabilities (where the thermostat learns your daily schedule automatically instead of you having to program it)

Step #2: Be certain it works with your home and HVAC system

After you decide which thermostat you need you’ll need to pick a particular model that works with your HVAC system.

To be certain a thermostat works with your system note it can work with:

  1. Your system’s specific voltage
  2. The location on the wall
  3. The # of heating/cooling stages your system has

#1: Check your system’s voltage

By your HVAC system being a low voltage, a millivolt, or a high voltage system you’ll need a thermostat that works with your system’s voltage requirements.

Most thermostats work with low voltage systems. An easy way to tell is if you have wall or floor heaters or an electric baseboard heating system. If you do then you have a low voltage system. They are after all the most common.

How do you confirm your thermostat works with a low voltage system?

Look at the specs on the thermostat box or manufacturer label, but if you’re online, look for the words “low voltage”.

#2: Make sure the thermostat fits on your wall

Remember that your new thermostat will fit in the exact same spot as your previous one. This way you won’t have to worry about rewiring it. This also makes your home zoned, each zone has its own thermostat, therefore you will need to purchase multiple thermostats.

#3: Have a professional decide the number of heating and cooling stages your system has…

The “Stages” are how many speeds your AC or heating system can run.

Your HVAC system will fall into 1 of the following categories:

  • 1-stage = the system works like an ON/OFF switch
  • 2-stage = the system works at a LOW/HIGH speed
  • Variable speed = the system can ramp up or down its cooling/heating levels depending on what is needed at any given time.

In the all run you will need to know if your thermostats wiring works with the number of stages your HVAC system has.

It is best to have a professional handle this for you since this has you read your current thermostat wiring.

Step #3: You should have a HVAC expert to help you install it

An improperly installed thermostat (due to a DIY attempt) can result in:

  • HVAC system malfunctions
  • Lowered comfort (improper wiring can even leave you without cold/warm air)
  • Expensive repairs
  • Unnecessarily high monthly energy bills

By hiring a professional this ensures that your thermostat will work with your system, and that you won’t run into any problems.

Do you need thermostat advice or an installment?

Give us a call. We’d be able to answer any questions you have or help you schedule an appointment with one of our techs to install a new thermostat for your home.