For Christmas, I gave Emily a brand spanking new Honeywell Wi-Fi 7 Day Programmable Thermostat.
Not this coming Christmas. Not last Christmas. Christmas 2015.
In September, I finally got around to installing it. Now that I’ve put it in service, I think it will pay big dividends in my quest for ever-lower electrical costs without compromising our comfort.
Installing our Programmable Thermostat
I’ve installed programmable thermostat before. This is not even my first Honeywell. It’s actually our third. As Emily loves to share, I gave her one for our first Valentine’s day as a couple. It saved her so much money that the natural gas company came and replaced her meter.
Since we have an electric heat pump system in our current home, I worried that the installation might be a little trickier this time. With gas, heating up is straightforward. With a heat pump, however, you want to avoid triggering heat strips. Your heat strips help your heat pump work better in raising the temperature in a cold house, but every time I hear or smell ours come on, I just think “Dollar…dollar…”
I think this is a good do-it-yourself project for a basic heat pump heating-cooling system. You might need to leave more complex systems to professionals, but if you’re comfortable with electronics, I found this install very straightforward.
Our old basic thermostat was also a Honeywell, so I found it easy and logical to adapt the wiring for the newer device.
When I first looked at the wiring, I thought the new thermostat might just snap into the old base assembly that was already screwed to the wall.
Almost, but not quite. I had to wire in a new base.
I recommend that you use your smartphone or another convenient digital camera to take pictures of every step as you disassemble your old system. This way you keep a record of what worked before you take it apart. It’s particularly important to get a photo of the wiring.
Once you’ve got your reference, though, you can move on to putting the new one in pretty easily by following the directions. Whoever wrote the factory directions for installation did an excellent job…well thought out and easy to follow. So follow them I did.
Programming the Thermostat
Fortunately, I also found the thermostat programming pretty intuitive.
On the Honeywell RTH6580, you can program the time and temperature each day for 4 time periods: Wake Up, Daytime Away, Return/Evening, and Sleep/Nighttime. Here’s how we have ours set up for the winter:
- WakeUp: Emily usually gets up around 6:30 am, so the temperature at wake up is set at 67 degrees for getting everyone out of their warm beds and getting ready for the day.
- Daytime: Our daughter is at school from 9-4, and while Emily and I may be home, we don’t need it to keep the house that warm to be comfortable. The temperature for daytime drops to 65.
- Evening: Once Little Bit is scheduled to get home, the temperature goes back to 67.
- Night: We head to bed around 9:30, and the temperature drops to 64 degrees for comfortable sleeping.
Of course, you can override the controls to raise or lower the temperature depending on your comfort needs, but we find this works pretty well through most of the cooler months. You can also schedule your weekends a little differently than your weekdays. If you wake up later or go to bed later on Saturdays and Sundays, you can adjust your system for that. We just haven’t found the need to do that.
Smart Response Technology
The thermostat we have will start adjusting so the temperature is correct by the set time. So in the early morning, when the system is set at 64 degrees, the thermostat will start raising the temperature early. By 6:30, the temperature is AT 67, not approaching it.
Depending on the outside temperature and the learning feature of the programmable thermostat, it may come on an hour early to have the house at the right temperature.
And this is where the money-saving magic happens.
Instead of turning on the (expensive) resistive electric heat strips that usually bring your home to temperature quickly, the system warms up gradually using the (less expensive) heat pump.
Of course, if it gets cold enough outside, the resistive heat may still come on. However, it hasn’t happened yet.
Ok, yes, it’s only November. But usually, we’ve noticed them switching on by now.
Smart Tech Features
This is a “smart” thermostat and has some features my previous programmable thermostats didn’t.
For one thing, the thermostat connects to our wi-fi system. The system can perform any updates as applicable.
Also, being connected to wi-fi means you can control the thermostat with your smartphone. After installing the smartphone app, you can turn up the heat without getting out of your bed or recliner. It’s useful if you’re feeling under the weather…or watching a really good football game.
Honeywell’s app, Total Connect Comfort, is available on Google Play or on iTunes. I found it easily by searching for Honeywell on Google Play. The app allows you to control multiple Honeywell thermostats at one time and is easy to use.
The Savings Bit
December, January, and February are our most expensive electricity months of the year, thanks to our electric heat pump system.
Every month, Duke Energy sends us a report telling us how our energy usage compares to our neighbors and to ” the most efficient houses.” Most of the year, we’re right there with the most efficient.
Not in the winter. At least not yet. I’m hoping we can change that.
If we can save in the range of 10 to 15% on heating costs this winter, we can pay for the programmable thermostat in a single winter.
Three or four months for a thermostat that will last us years? I’ll take that ROI. Saving money on a necessity while adding convenience? I’ll take that too.
Have you installed a thermostat before? How quickly do you like to recoup the value on your home improvements? What DIY wins have you scored lately?
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