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Programmable Thermostats

Programmable Thermostats

Time to beat the heat in Austin. Air Conditioning repair is sometimes a necessity and when it does become time for you to get your air conditioner repaired in Austin, AC Express has you covered with same day AC repair services that you can trust.

In some ways, the tool that connects the central air conditioner to the home’s inhabitants is just as important as the air conditioner itself. I’m talking, of course, about the thermostat. The thermostat is what gives people control over the air in their home. That all-important little device attached to the wall gives you power over temperature. But what if you could have even more control over your comfort and energy usage? What if thermostats could be even more powerful?

Enter the programmable thermostat. A programmable thermostat is the answer to the question of how does one simultaneously optimize their energy usage while customizing their air conditioner’s behavior to their lifestyle. Read on to learn more about programmable thermostats and how one could benefit you.

What is a Programmable Thermostat?

Programmable thermostats, which you might also see referred to as setback thermostats or clock thermostats, are thermostats that alter the air conditioner’s status based on pre-determined settings you control. This allows the temperature to adjust itself various times throughout the day in a way that maximizes your comfort while minimizing energy usage. Ultimately, this means you get to think about changing the thermostat less and let the technology in the programmable thermostat do the work for you.

The two biggest costs when it comes to air conditioning in Austin are AC repair and energy bills. And the number one factor that determines how much energy your air conditioning is costing you is how often it’s being run. This is obvious. But that means that the number one way to reduce energy bills is to keep the temperature as close to the temperature outside as much as possible. The cooler your air conditioner keeps your house during the summer, the more electricity you’re using.

So, the best way for someone to minimize their energy usage is to keep the temperature high whenever it makes sense to do so. This is usually when no one is home. Between school, work, and everything else that keeps us busy and out of the house, there are going to be times when no one is home to enjoy the cool air that the air conditioner provides. It makes sense to have the air conditioner set high or off completely at these times. But remembering to manually reset the air conditioner every time you leave the house is often quite difficult. That’s what programmable thermostats are for, to do that work for you.

So, let’s say at 8am, your kids leave for school. Then, at 9am, you leave for work. While all of this is going on, you’re getting ready, getting your kids out the door, packing your lunch, and doing everything that a busy morning might involve. The last thing you’re going to do is remember to raise the temperature on the thermostat as you walk out the door. But with a programmable thermostat, you can tell your air conditioner to switch off at 9am every Monday through Friday, then switch back on at 5pm when you’re kids arrive home from school. For those eight hours in between, you’re saving money. Programmable thermostats are all about saving money and giving you control over your comfort and energy usage.

How to get a Programmable Thermostat

The first step is to choose the model that’s right for you. There are a couple of different types of programmable thermostats.

  • Clock Thermostats: Usually, the most basic programmable thermostats are referred to as clock thermostats. The most basic clock thermostats have just one program that has two settings. It allows you to set a time for the air conditioner to keep the house cooler, and a time for the temperature to be lowered. So, like in the example above, you could set a clock thermostat to let the temperature rise to 82 degrees at 9am, and then lower it back down to 76 degrees at 5pm, and it would do this each day. On the weekend, when the usual schedule is broken, there would be a button on most clock thermostats to override this program and keep the house cool.
  • Digital Thermostats: These models are more sophisticated. They allow for more control and more specific settings. With a digital thermostat, you could have the air conditioner lower the AC to a cool 76 degrees for most of the weekend, but raise it two degrees in the middle of night while everyone is asleep, and raise it even more during the weekdays when the house inhabitants are out. Digital thermostats allow the user to set two, four, or six periods of different temperatures throughout the day, and they allow the user to customize the temperature during each period, instead of just having one hotter temperature and one cooler temperature.
  • Digital Thermostats with PID Controllers: PID controllers are included in Digital thermostats that are more sophisticated. Without a PID controller a programmable thermostat would turn on the AC at 5pm and let it run until the temperature reached 76 degrees. With a PID controller (which stands for proportional–integral–derivative), the thermostat would learn how the system will react to the air conditioner and how fast the temperature will change. This way, the air conditioner would run in such a way so that at exactly 5pm, the temperature will have reached 76 degrees.

Once you’ve chosen the model and type of programmable thermostat you want, installation is fairly easy. First, you remove the old thermostat. This means first, you must use a screwdriver to unscrew the old wall mount. Next you remove the casing of the thermostat. Then, you have to loosen and remove the wires from the thermostat, the part called the sub-base. Once the old thermostat is completely detached, you can screw on the new wall mount. Then, you must connect the wires to the new programmable thermostat. More specific instructions will come with the thermostat you purchased, or can be sought out online. Of course, if you prefer, you could always have a trusted AC repair specialist, like those at AC Express, help you choose and install a new programmable thermostat.

Is a Programmable Thermostat Right for Me?

Ultimately, the question of whether a programmable thermostat is worth investing in comes down to how regular the schedules of your household members are, and how well those schedules line up. In other words, are there large chunks of time when no one is home, and are those chunks of time fairly regular? For example, if you or someone in your house works from home, a programmable thermostat might not be right for you. If your work schedule is unpredictable and changes from week to week, a programmable thermostat might not be right for you.

But, if there’s a decent chunk of time when everyone is out of the house, and this period repeats regularly from week to week, a programmable thermostat will almost certainly benefit you in the long run. As a rule of thumb, for an eight hour period of time, for every degree the temperature in the house is kept closer to the temperature outside, you’ll save one percent on your energy bill. So, if you’re able to keep the house 10 degrees hotter for eight hours while everyone is at school and work, you’ll save roughly 10 percent on your next energy bill. These savings will continue to add up over time. A programmable thermostat, even an expensive one, can pay itself off fairly quickly.

There are a wide variety of models when it comes to programmable thermostats. Some of these thermostats have advanced and extra features that you might find appealing. Most models allow you to temporarily override the current settings without resetting the programmed settings. But some give you even more control. For example, there are programmable thermostats that can connect to your home Wi-Fi. This way, you can actually control your air conditioner with your computer or smartphone even. So, if you get off work early, you can make a temporary change in the settings of the thermostat so that the house is cool for you by the time you get home.

The list of options doesn’t even stop there. There are programmable thermostats out there that can be controlled in a number of other ways. For example, there exists voice command controlled programmable thermostats and thermostats that use your phone to detect when you arrive within a predetermined radius of your house, so that the house is cooled by the time you reach the door.

Some programmable thermostats come with helpful extra features, like alerts that let you know when it’s time to change your air filter. Some digital thermostats even go a step further and change their settings automatically without you having to do a thing. They do this by using sensors throughout the home that sense when the house is occupied and when it’s not. This way, even if you’re schedule is a little irregular, the air conditioner will run only as much as it needs to, when it’s needed, without you having to touch a button.

With all of these options, for most people, programmable thermostats will end up saving you money in the long run. You can expect around 10 percent off your energy bills with the smart usage of a programmable thermostat. Considering that the average home costs people around $2200 a year in energy bills, most programmable thermostats will pay for themselves before the first year of usage is over.

Programmable Thermostats and Air Conditioning Repair in Austin

Programmable thermostats are wonderful pieces of technology. They allow you to take control of the air in your home in a big way. Use one to maximize your energy efficiency and keep your air conditioner running only as often as it needs to be. This way, you’ll save as much as possible on your energy bill and reduce your carbon footprint. Programmable thermostats are good for your wallet and the environment.

Knowing which programmable thermostat to get is not always an easy task. There are a dizzying number of models with just as many features on the market these days. If you’d like help choosing and installing a programmable thermostat that will meet your needs, you can rely on AC Express. Having brought better air conditioning to Austin for many years, AC Express has the expert knowledge to get you what you need, whether you’re in Lakeway, Lago Vista, Buda, or anywhere else in and around Austin. AC repair and installation is what we do and we’d love to do it for you. Call today! 512-452-COLD


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