Thermostat help please?
Hi all -- I am an absolute ignoramus on any things HVAC. I have been trying to bootstrap by reading up here but it's hard when you're this far back. I got to gardenweb via the kitchen forum a few years back and the folks there were tremendously helpful; so helpful it's hard to find adequate accolades to cover their overflowing gifts of random kindnesses.
So I thought I'd try over here on this forum, but begging your forgiveness first for being so out of it.
We have a newly renovated house in southern california, remade by some fairly subpar folk. A second floor was added and two furnaces installed, a larger one for the downstairs and a smaller one for the upstairs. We basically never use the smaller one. Each is controlled by separate Emerson thermostats, probably the lowest end battery controlled programmable device, I'm guessing. I have no idea what the furnaces are or whether they have stages. I could go look if it were important, but let me pose my question; this may be irrelevant or obviously not part of the picture.
The downstairs thermostat has stopped working -- in the most peculiar way but it doesn't really matter unless someone's curious. Bottom line is we need a new one and dh suggested a remote-controlled one. Sounds expensive and unnecessarily snazzy to me.
Is there a recommendation available from y-all for a modest, good-enough and not exorbitant thermostat that would (a) work, (b) satisfy the desire for efficiency and a vague yearning for modern improvement? This is hardly a harsh climate. OTOH, the heater does want running here and there's no point in wasting energy.
I do not understand the conversation about stages in furnaces and the like -- would I know if stages were involved? I presume we would have to have had a fancier thermostat if we owned something that sophisticated? So I am guessing this is a request for just about the simplest product available. But as I know zero about the whole matter, I would appreciate even the most obvious suggestions or thoughts.
Thank you very much!