Electronic Digital Thermostats

Much more energy efficient than mercury thermostats, electronic digital thermostats feature reliability, accuracy and better temperature control. Mercury thermostats, by the use of switches, sense and control temperature with coils that expand and contract to open or close circuits that turn the power to air conditioning units, furnaces, and heat pumps off and on. Not only are mercury thermostats no longer used when building homes, this outdated type of thermostat has been banned in many states because of the toxicity of mercury when the unit is disposed of.

Thermistors to the Rescue

Electronic digital thermostats, on the other hand, work by sensing temperature changes using a thermistor, a blending of the words thermal and resistor. No mercury is used in this type of thermostat, and it has pretty much replaced the old mercury thermostats as the latter have worn out over the years.

Most electronic digital thermostats are also programmable, although you can buy them as manual units. The benefits to the programmable models include waking up and retiring to temperatures you find comfortable enough to live with. Otherwise, with manual thermostats, you will need to turn the thermostat down (or up, depending on the season) before going to bed and then turning it back up (or down) upon awakening. Most people don't prefer to wake up to a cold room in winter or have trouble falling asleep in a hot room during the summer, thereby making programmable thermostats far and above the more preferred type of thermostat.

Take Advantage of Programmable Models

Even programmable electronic digital thermostats must be set properly in order for energy savings to be realized. A typical setting for colder months would be 68 degrees Fahrenheit (20 degrees Celsius) and for the hot summer season, a setting of 78 degrees Fahrenheit (26 degrees Celsius) provides significant savings.

This, in addition to proper insulation in ceilings and walls, weather stripping around doors and windows, and making sure air filters are cleaned and/or replaced regularly can offer huge utility-bill relief.

Some electronic digital thermostats can be programmed to run at one temperature during the week and another during weekends, another feature that adds significant energy savings. Whichever time people most occupy the house, the thermostat regulates the environment to be the most comfortable.

As a side note, it pays to know that when you are sleeping, your body temperature naturally falls, which translates into knowing that in the summer, you can adjust your programmable thermostat so that it switches to a higher temperature after a certain time when you know you and/or your family are most likely to be sleeping.

Use It or Lose It

It's clear that electronic digital thermostats pull their weight in savings and convenience to homeowners, especially those with programmable features. But learning how to program your thermostat so that it does its best work is up to you. So take the time to bone up on setting your home's thermostat to get the best benefits possible. Not only will you be more comfortable, you wallet will feel better, too.