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Thermostat buying guide

Thermostat buying guide

Holly, self-taught DIYer, Cardiff

Guide written by:

Holly, self-taught DIYer, Cardiff

23 guides

Thermostats are used to control the temperature of a heating or cooling system to suit the occupant's lifestyle. In addition to making the home more comfortable, a thermostat can help you save on your energy bill. From various models and technologies to extra features, read on to find the best thermostat for your home.

Important features

  • Wired or wireless
  • Programming modes
  • Surface or flush-mounted
  • Additional features and savings
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Thermostats allow you not only to select a desired temperature at your heating device, but also to programme set-point temperatures in the home. This means your heating will turn on and off automatically depending on the ambient temperature and the time slots you have programmed. You'll only heat your home when required which can save you up to 25% on your heating (or a bit less if you are using a thermostat to control an air conditioner).

Compatible with practically all heating and cooling devices and systems (including boilers, wood burning stoves, electric radiators, underfloor heating and air conditioners), a thermostat, or programmable room thermostat, should be chosen to match your budget and your requirements.

Thermostats all come with different programming options and may be wired or wireless, the latter of which are easier to install. Smart thermostats will cost you more but means you can control your heating remotely via a laptop, smartphone or tablet.

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Thermostats allow you to allocate set temperatures for each room of the house. Each thermostat comes with at least three basic pre-programmed modes.

  • Auto mode. This mode uses default settings which usually means the thermostat is set to temperatures of 19 to 21° C at times when typical households require heating. Some models will have more advanced default settings for certain rooms; for example, a thermostat may be set to turn on the heating in the bathroom shortly before the rest of the house.
  • Eco mode. This mode is used to lower or turn off the heating over night or when you're away for two hours to two days.
  • Frost protection or holiday mode puts your heating on standby. The heating will only turn on if the temperature reaches a minimum threshold (usually below 7°C). This mode can be used if you plan to be away longer than two days at a time.

Of course these modes can be modified if you plan to be away for a while, if you don't spend much time at home or if you have any other particular requirements.

In addition to these basic settings you can add a wide selection of settings to match your lifestyle including the time you wake up, go to work, and so on.

Wired thermostats are generally only installed if you are changing your heating system or as part of a wider renovation project since you will have to run the electrical wire through the walls. The unit itself should be secured to a wall far from any heat sources (ovens, fireplaces, etc.).

Wireless thermostats operate by connecting to your Wi-Fi network so can be moved around easily. But be sure to check that your thermostat is within reach of your router.

Smart thermostats can be controlled from your smartphone, laptop or tablet. No matter where you are – in the office or on holiday – you can change your heating or air conditioning settings to meet your needs. For example, you might want to turn the heating on an hour earlier or later than planned.

Some models even feature a geolocalisation feature which works to adjust temperatures just before or after you leave the home.

It goes without saying that a thermostat must be compatible with your heating or cooling device or system. For example, some models won't work with a high-voltage electrical heating system.

Be sure to check the hysteresis of the thermostat. This refers to the difference between the temperature at which the thermostat switches off and the temperature at which it switches on again. For example, with a thermostat with a hysteresis of 1°C and a set temperature of 19° C, the heating will go on at 18.5° C and turn off when it reaches 19.5° C. The hysteresis may be fixed or adjustable.

You should also think about the design of your thermostat as well as installation – these units can be surface- or flush-mounted.

From there, you can think about the types of features you want.

  • Daily or weekly programming.
  • Open window detection to turn off the heating when the windows are open.
  • Energy monitor display alongside your desired temperature.
  • Touch control to prevent programming errors.
  • An override option to temporarily adjust the temperature without modifying your programmed settings.
  • Motion sensor to automatically increase the temperature of the room you are in, even if your thermostat is on eco mode.
More information

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Guide written by:

Holly, self-taught DIYer, Cardiff, 23 guides

Holly, self-taught DIYer, Cardiff

First of all, my studies have nothing to do with decoration or DIY as I was specialised in management. My passion in DIY started 5 years ago (very recently!) Everything started when we bought a house to renovate from floor to ceiling. As I’m a self-taught person, I started working on different house projects both inside and outside. My husband helped me but the student soon overtook the teacher! And as there are a lot of green spaces in Wales, gardening tools have no secrets for me. My friends and family often come to me for advice when it comes to DIY. Today, I want to share this knowledge with you!

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