Programmable thermostats are a hot topic in the HVAC industry.
Their popularity has grown in recent years with the emergence of devices such as the Lennox iComfort system. The main logic backing the development has been that they are more efficient and therefore save you money. After all, when you’re not home, you don’t need your HVAC system to be working, right?
It’s more complicated than that.
When your home is being conditioned to your temperature settings, it’s not just the air that’s being affected. This includes your floors, walls, furniture and anything else in your home. All of these objects or surfaces hold energy that keeps you comfortable and when your system isn’t running, they can lose it. These parts of your home take longer to condition than the air, so when the energy they hold is lost, they can affect the length of time it takes to attain a comfortable temperature in your home.
In the real world, you experience this all the time. When you roll out of bed and your floors are freezing cold or when you sit down on the couch after someone else and you can feel their warmth, you experience it with everything you touch.
When your temperature settings are significantly different overnight or for other long periods of time, it can be more difficult for your system to reach the desired comfort settings.
For these reasons and others, Energy Star made a statement including this quote: “While EPA recognizes the potential for programmable thermostats to save significant amounts of energy, there continue to be questions concerning the net energy savings and environmental benefits achieved under the previous ENERGY STAR programmable thermostat specification.”
This obviously spreads doubt about programmable thermostats, however, one thing not accounted for in this statement is peak-hour pricing.
Ontario’s energy services are run on three levels of pricing: On-peak, mid-peak, and off-peak. These times are split up into time slots throughout the day and adjusted for winter and summer. As of November 1st, the time slots switched to 7:00 am to 11:00 am and 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm as on-peak, 11:00 am to 5:00 pm as mid peak and 7:00 pm to 7:00 am as off-peak.
This is an added incentive to use a programmable thermostat, as you can run a schedule according to these times. You may not need significant changes to your comfort settings, but if you’re really looking to take advantage of a programmable thermostat, this is the way to do it.
It may be against conventional wisdom, but to take full advantage of this system it can be better to adjust your comfort settings earlier in the morning. Starting your system before you wake up and before peak hours start (7:00 am) can make it so that your home and the objects in it are comfortable for a lower price. In fact, these off-peak hours that can prepare your home for more expensive time periods are charged at less than half of the on-peak hours.
And you don’t have to stop there. Programmable thermostats offer many functions other than creating a schedule. For example, a system like the Lennox iComfort thermostat helps your home function in harmony. There are a lot of moving parts in HVAC systems and when running uncoordinated, there can be a lot of inefficiency.
For more information regarding programmable thermostats and how you can optimize them for your home, click here to get in touch with A1.
A1 Air Conditioning & Heating has been a family owned and operated business in Oakville, Burlington, Mississauga, Milton, Hamilton and Toronto since 1967.