Most people who live in homes with central heating will have thermostats, but not everyone knows how to use them to their best purpose. In fact, most people think they are using the thermostat correctly but because there are many different types on the market, each has its own features that need to be understood for you to use them efficiently.

Do you live in a large three-story house or a small one-bedroom flat? Knowing what your needs are will help you understand what thermostat is best for you. In this article we’ll look at different types of thermostats currently on the market and give you advice on the best way to use a thermostat to save on your energy bills.

How do thermostats work?

Starting with the very basics of what a thermostat is and what is its primary function is a good place to begin.

A thermostat is basically a temperature sensor that helps regulate the temperature in the home. In technical terms a thermostat is a regulating device which senses the temperature and performs an action to maintain a determined temperature. The word thermostat is derived from the Greek words thermos (meaning hot) and statos (stay the same).  Thermostats are not only used for controlling central heating, they are also in your car engine, oven, fridge and in your kettle.

Without thermostats, our energy bills would be very high indeed as there would be no mechanism to turn off the heating when the desired temperature is reached- heat would continue to build and your home would overheat and when the heating is off your home would gradually become too cold. A thermostat regulates this and keeps as close to a constant temperature as possible- by detecting changes in the room temperature and knowing when to turn the heating on and off for us.

Heating your home can be one of your main household expenses, so being able to control the cost of your central heating system is mainly down to having a good control over the temperature of your home and the time your heating system is on for.  Most of us only spend a third of our time at home so having a programmable thermostat is really important to not waste valuable heating. A thermostat set to the correct settings can save you up to 30% on your energy bills.

Different types of thermostats explained

Mostly what we know as thermostats is the wall-mounted control devices of which there are a number of types with different features and attributes, usually dependant on how modern your home heating system is. Newer models are definitely more energy efficient for reasons explained below.

Non- programable Thermostats

Your standard non-programmable thermostat is the most common and easiest to use- also known as manual or mechanical thermostats. They are the cheapest on the market but are also the least sensitive to temperature changes in the home and can often lead to there being a difference between the temperature they are set at and the actual temperature in the house.  They use either bi-metallic strips or vapour filled bellows to measure the air temperature and act to turn the heating source on and off. Being so simply designed, there is not much that can go wrong with them, but you need to constantly remember to manually adjust the settings when you do change them and this is the least energy efficient of all thermostats. They usually have an LED display showing the set temperature, and basic buttons to switch between heating and cooling and to increase/decrease temperature.

Programmable Thermostats

Programmable thermostats eliminate the need to constantly having to manually adjust your temperature and timings. Having the ability to set temperature and time settings means that there should be no wasted energy usage in your home. The heating should come on exactly when you need it and at the correct temperature. Some only differentiate between day and night-time options, others allow you to select actual times of the day. Even more efficient are those programmable thermostats that can be set differently for different days of the week. The programmable thermostat is a bit more expensive but will save you money on energy bills from day one.

Wireless Thermostat

Is connected over a wireless network and is accessible via smartphone, tablet or computer allowing you to control your thermostat remotely from anywhere. Is more expensive than a manual or programmable but has superior features that make your life so much easier, such as turning on the heating when you’re on your way home or if your plans change and you want to adjust the set program remotely.

Smart Thermostat

A smart thermostat can be controlled wirelessly via your smartphone, tablet or computer, integrating with other home technology tools and allowing you to control your heating remotely. Also known as a learning thermostat, it learns your living habits and self-adjusts to your routine over time, predicting your preferences and programming automatically.

This thermostat also allows you to see your energy usage in real-time so no surprises when your bill arrives. Many are compatible with Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa for tech savvy households.  It can be a more expensive option but by using the most advanced technology available in home heating will mean significant savings on energy efficiency in the long term. 

Where is the best location for a thermostat?

Thermostats should never be placed on an outside wall or anywhere that it could be exposed to direct sunlight at any time, as this will give a misleading temperature reading. They should also be away from the source of heat or cooling, such as radiators, air conditioning vents or wall panels. Most rooms that can be zoned individually should have its own thermostat so each room is regulated separately- this can save on energy consumption because it allows you to turn off or modify the timings for rooms that are not used or only used at certain times of the day.

What is the best way to use a thermostat?

Most of us still have questions about what is the most energy efficient way to keep our homes at a comfortable temperature without running the risk of high energy bills. So, what is the most energy efficient way to set your thermostat if you are away for extended periods during the day?

There are those of us that believe setting the thermostat to a target temperature to keep our homes at a constant temperature whether or not we are home so your heating system doesn’t have to work as hard, or those of us that are constantly turning our heating on and off when we are away from home to save on energy use that is then needed to heat up the house from its cooled temperature.

Various factors need to be taken into consideration here such as the size of your home, the quality of your insulation (how quickly your house loses heat) but ultimately studies have shown that it’s better to adjust your thermostat when you are not at home, allowing your home to cool down, and switch your heating back on when you come home.

Useful tips

  • Get to know what temperature your most comfortable ambient home temperature is and remember that it will be different between summer months and winter months.
  • Remember if you are away during winter months and there is a risk outside temperatures may go below freezing you want to keep your pipes from freezing.
  • You should also lower the temperature on your thermostat while you are asleep.
  • Having good home insulation can go a long way in lowering your energy bills.
  • Each degree difference can have an impact on your energy bills so give some thought to what minimum temperature is offers you the most thermal comfort.

How are Far Infrared Heaters controlled by thermostat?

Far Infrared heaters can be very simple to use and once plugged in, can be controlled by a simple on/off switch, however used in conjunction with a thermostat can be much more energy efficient and give you greater control over your heating.

It may be confusing to know that Infrared heaters also work best using thermostatic controls. But if Far infrared heaters don’t use the air to transport heat, instead they work by heating up objects directly in their line of sight, how can a thermostat work in this case? Well, infrared heating works so well because it transmits infrared energy to the objects in is path, such as furniture, people, walls etc., which in turn absorb this energy and release it slowly back into the room. For this reason, heat is retained and continues to be radiated into the room for some time after the panel has been turned off. So, a thermostat can effectively regulate the air temperature in a room with a Far Infrared heater.

Far Infrared heaters are often sold with thermostats that are wireless and battery powered so can be placed anywhere in a room. The best location is not too close to the heater itself and usually beside a light switch is preferred. Avoid in-built thermostats as these will be too close to the heat source.

It’s important to note that with Far Infrared heating, a thermostat will show a lower air temperature than conventional heating because the necessary level of thermal comfort can be achieved with lower air temperatures. So, no more feeling stuffy and overheated, lower air temperatures but the perfect level of thermal comfort.

The beauty of how infrared heaters work is that you only use them in specific areas or rooms and only when necessary, this means that’s you zone your space depending on your heating requirements this saving hugely on your energy consumption. By having a thermostat for each zone or room, you can effectively control the temperature in each part of your home separately and manage your entire heating system remotely.

How do thermostats work

Redwell Infrared Heating recommend using Heatmiser Smart thermostats that are standalone room thermostats that give you precise control over your heating needs while minimizing your energy consumption. Heatmiser thermostats are fully programmable and work with platforms such as Apple HomeKit, Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant and IFTTT. These thermostats communicate wirelessly with the neoHub via your router that allows you to control everything seamlessly from your smartphone as part of an app-controlled Neo System- turning your home into a Smart Home.

Smart heating systems are fast becoming the must-have in modern homes in the UK. Never before has there been such innovative technology that allows you to control your home heating system with such precision, helping you to save enormously on your energy bills.