Should I Replace or Upgrade My Old Thermostat?

This is an important question to ask because the thermostat currently in use might be good enough. There are two main reasons to replace a thermostat: either the old thermostat is broken, or the old thermostat can’t do the job the way you want it done.

Broken-related Replacement

If the old thermostat is broken, then the need to replace it is obvious. Sometimes, trying to determine whether the problem is with the thermostat or in the HVAC unit itself can be a challenge.  If the blower is not turning on, with a little effort you can bypass the thermostat and see if the unit turns on.

To do this, turn off the power to the HVAC at the breaker box. Thermostat covers are designed to be removed easily by hand. Remove the cover to expose the control wires. Sometimes there will be an additional cover that must be removed with a screwdriver to expose the control wires.

If any control wires are loose or disconnected, you may have already found the problem. Tighten everything down and turn on the power to see if the problem is gone. It isn’t necessary to replace the cover for this.If the problem hasn’t been corrected, shut off the power at the breaker box once more. Remove the appropriate wires from their terminals and twist them together.

Which wires are twisted together will depend on the problem is with a heater or an air conditioner. If your heater has the problem, the correct wires will be red and white. The wires will be red and green if the air conditioner has the problem. After twisting the wires together, turn the power back on at the breaker box. If the blower comes on, the thermostat is bad. If the blower does not turn on, the problem is somewhere else and it’s probably time to call a professional.

Performance-related replacement

Performance-related replacement can be a bit trickier. Higher-end thermostats can be programmed to manage the HVAC system under many different situations. Some of the newest thermostats, like Nest, will actually learn your tendencies and self-adapt.

Older thermostats using a dial or slider are imprecise and setting the thermostat is a completely manual process. There is no programming one of these units. Changing the settings to adapt to different conditions requires a person to be there at the recommended time. Changing the settings when nobody is home is obviously impossible.

No old manual thermostat will provide any information about your HVAC system. Newer thermostats can tell you when to change a filter and warn you if there is a problem. The self-adapting Nest has even more features to help save you money and minimize the time spent programming the thermostat.

Benefits of Upgrading

There are three main benefits you’ll see after upgrading to a modern thermostat: energy efficiency, comfort levels, and adaptability. We’ve touched on some of this already, but let’s look at each of these benefits in more detail.

  • Energy Efficiency – The energy efficiency of the HVAC system itself is largely set in stone based on the system you buy. The only control you have once your HVAC system is in place is the way you make use of the system. That’s where a modern thermostat can have a big impact, translating directly into savings on your energy bills.

Programmable thermostats allow your HVAC system to operate more efficiently by heating or cooling when people tend to be home, and reducing the output when people are away or asleep. Another newer type thermostat is called wifi thermosts which often come with the program function as well. For more information, you can read our related article: WiFi Thermostat Worth My Money?

  • Comfort Levels – With a programmable thermostat, not only can you use most of your heating and cooling energy when people are home to make use of it, these thermostats can be programmed to turn on at just the right time before people get home so the house is comfortable the moment you walk in the door.
  • Adaptability – You live a different life during weekends than during the week. On any given weekend, you might be home more than usual, or possibly away more than usual. Programmable thermostats allow for different operation during the weekend. If you invest in a Wi-Fi-enabled thermostat, you can even adjust the programming while you are away via a smartphone app.

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