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Houston AC System Upgrades: Thermostats

Is your system in good health and relatively low in age but your thermostat is basic? If so, you can increase the efficiency of your Houston AC system and make it more convenient to operate.

However, it’s not like you can just jump on Amazon and pick out the first thermostat that catches your eye. You have to make sure you’re choosing the right thermostat for your needs that is also compatible with your system.

Once you’ve purchased it, it’s not a simple plug-and-play type of installation to be able to use it. Even if you’re comfortable with electrical and Houston AC equipment, there’s factors to consider.

We’re going to help you make your way through the process though, so no worries—you’re in good hands.

Choosing a replacement thermostat involves 3 simple steps:

  • Figuring out which kind of thermostat you want
  • Ensuring it is fully compatible with your unit
  • Contacting a certified Houston AC technician to install it properly.

If you’d rather skip the rest of the article and just give us a call to upgrade, you can always just contact us.

Alright, let’s jump right into the first step!

Step #1: Choosing The Thermostat That Suits Your Needs

We often get this question from Houston homeowners: “What type of thermostat does my AC unit need?”

First, let’s briefly cover the three types of thermostats available for Houston AC systems, as well as the pros and cons of each

Manual thermostats (decent)

Also referred to as non-programmable or mechanical, manual thermostats are the most stripped-down version of thermostat you can buy. They cover essential on/off functions for manually controlling the temperature. This means when you want it cooler you have to manually turn the thermostat down, or up if you want heat.

Sounds archaic, doesn’t it; in this day and age of smart devices and Alexa-enabled everything? However, there is still a market for them, particularly in new home builds where contractors want to save money. But also, many elderly homeowners prefer the simplicity.

You can purchase 2 types of manual thermostats for your Houston AC:

  • Digital—uses buttons and basic LCD readout for the controls.
  • Analog—very old school, just a simple dial with printed numbers showing the temperature.

The downside to this kind of thermostat is that they are rarely precise when it comes to controlling the temperature. Most operate within an acceptable margin of error.

Well, we’ll be the first to tell you that a +/- 3° margin of error can make a significant impact on your electric bill. So for that reason, among others, we do not recommend a manual thermostat.

Programmable thermostats (better)

Programmable thermostats let you know what they do simply by their name. You can program your AC system to control the temperature to your needs. This can help you save money and use your system more efficiently.

For example,  if you’re at work on weekdays from 8am-5pm, you can schedule it to raise the thermostat while you’re gone. Additionally, you can schedule it to drop it back down again about an hour before you normally get home.

Sure, you could just turn off the AC when you leave, but then you come home to very uncomfortable temperatures and the system works harder. So, with just a bit of extra setup, you can help save money and prolong system life too.

And along those lines, is where we come to the ultimate solution…

Smart Thermostats (best)

Smart thermostats are programmable thermostats on steroids. Connected to the internet, these systems can be controlled by an app on your phone, computer, or other devices—from anywhere.

Although they are the most expensive type, the benefits, efficiency, and convenience they offer are worth it.

Let’s say you’re at work and you didn’t know a cold front was coming through and you have your AC turned off because it’s 70° outside. Now, however, the temp outside has dropped to 37° in only a few hours. Why?

It’s Texas, that’s why.

Either way, with a manual or programmable thermostat, they can’t account for when you don’t watch the forecast. You’re coming home to a very cold house and wasted money.

With the smart thermostat, no problem. Pull up your app and adjust the temperature so the heat comes on, and you’re covered!

Some smart thermostats also come with many convenience features such as::

  • Touch Screen Display
  • Voice control and instruction
  • Alerts for dirty filters
  • Multiple program schedules
  • Learning abilities—it learns your AC habits and works automatically based on your patterns

Step #2: Make Sure It’s Fully Compatible With Your Houston AC System

Once you’ve decided which type of thermostat you want, you need to make sure it is compatible with your system.

If you want to ensure system compatibility, check that it can function with:

  1. The voltage of your system
  2. The install location
  3. The # of cooling & heating stages your unit has

Questions already? Don’t worry, we’re going to expound.

#1: Check The Voltage Of Your System

HVAC systems are designed to operate at various voltages depending on size and application. Most mini splits run on 110/120 volts, while most central AC units run on 220/240 volts. This is mainly going to depend on the BTUs and size of the system. Larger systems equal larger draw and that means a higher voltage.

#2: Make sure the thermostat fits in the current location

Don’t forget to make sure your new thermostat will fit in the same install location as the old one. If it doesn’t you’re looking at patching up your wall and rewiring a new location. If you are using a zoned setup, each zone will have its own thermostat so, you’re buying multiples as well.

Not comfortable with all that goes into this? Contact AIRTEAM to just handle the process for you and get you what you need, installed. After all, you’ll still need to have a pro look at your system anyway to determine the # of heating/cooling stages your system has. Why not just have them install it?

Step #3: Contact an HVAC expert to help you install it

Listen, we list out these steps to share information with you in case you’re one of the few with the mechanical know-how. The majority of people reading this will be making a much easier and safer choice by hiring a pro like AIRTEAM. We work on Houston AC systems all the time and installing a thermostat is routine for us.

  • System Malfunctions
  • Electrical Damage
  • Inefficient Operation Leading To Discomfort
  • High Energy Bills

Hiring AIRTEAM to install your thermostat ensures it gets done right and with the right equipment.

Contact us today to talk about your options!

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