Should I buy a new thermostat?

china_cat84March 5, 2010

My DH and I recently bought a "new" home. It was built in 1939 but it has seen a lot of updating and remodeling. The previous owners have made great strides towards improving the energy efficiency of the home. It has new thermo windows, an insulated attic, energy efficient water heater and furnace/AC, and a digital thermostat.

The only thing is, though the thermostat is digital, it looks fairly old. I was told by an HVAC technician that I should look into replacing it but wanted to see what everyone else thinks too. Sometimes those technicians will tell you to replace something when it's really not necessary. Anyway, the thermostat is a Honeywell CT3200A1001. They don't sell it anymore or at least I can't find it anywhere that sells Honeywell including their website. Just wondering if purchasing a new thermostat be be a benefit or just another unnecessary item. I think that the thermostat is still pretty accurate, at least it feels that way, but the HVAC tech said that the older they are the less accurate and energy efficient they are.

Let me know what you think! Thanks!

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"Digital" can be over 30 years old!

The newer ones often have better control over the settings: multiple setbacks per day, 7 to 28-day cycles (for people who may work strange schedules), etc. I've even seen one that does not allow overrides during time of day when electric rates are the highest (keeps the kids from bumping up the temp)

    Bookmark   March 5, 2010 at 2:22PM
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Do you require more options than the working thermostat offers? New thermostats aren't all that expensive and are available at any hardware or home improvement center, but I'd also hesitate spending money if it's not necessary just because the technician wanted to make a sale.

If the technician couldn't point to something definitive that was a problem with the thermostat, if it functions with your furnace/air conditioner, if you can control the temperature, as needed, without having to have a programmable model, then I wouldn't bother.


    Bookmark   March 5, 2010 at 4:03PM
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Thanks for the comments!

Well, the model that I have is programmable. It has one setting for days Monday-Friday and one for the weekends. You can set a certain temp for "wake", "away", "home", and "sleep" for the weekdays and "wake" and "sleep" during the weekends. You can easily override the temp at any time if your schedule changes.

I have no problems with the features of the thermostat, I just want to know if it's efficient. In our house, every penny counts! We live on my husband's income while I go to school and stay at home with my daughter. So money is tight and if we can save more money by spending $50-$150 on another thermostat, so be it. But if it's unnecessary, I'd like to know that as well. I'd ask a professional, but I don't personally know anyone so I feel like I can't really trust their opinion. Even clerks at hardware stores are trying to make a sale so it's hard for me to decide if it's necessary or not.

    Bookmark   March 5, 2010 at 4:23PM
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That thermostat is newer than the home. We have a honeywell unprogramable thermostat and it works just fine for us. It was installed when we bought this house new in 1972 and we have never felt the need to change it.

Thermostats to control heat and humidity were introduced in 1968.

In 1977 a thermostat that combined clock works and had a battery power in case of a blackout.

It wasn't until 1986 that they came out with pushbutton programing. If yours has push buttons it is after that date. I'd say if you have no problems with it and it serves your purpose then it is not necessary to change it unless you want to.

    Bookmark   March 5, 2010 at 5:18PM
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Thanks, oilpainter. It does have batteries. It does have push buttons. And it controls heat and humidity. I think I'm in the clear.

Too bad a person can't "test drive" a new thermostat for say, 3-4 months, to see if it really does help with the energy savings!

Thanks again everyone!

    Bookmark   March 5, 2010 at 5:23PM
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Strange that you could not find your thermostat since Honeywell still has the model number listed on their website. You did not list a final U so that may be the difference.

One of the things that my tech told me a couple of years ago is to make certain the battery is new. When the battery stops controling the thermostat the furnice will start heating and lacking the battery control will not stop. I did not belive the tech but last summer the battery ran out and by the time I noticed the problem the temp was in the 90's.

If you are worried buy a new one but watch for a sale.

Here is a link that might be useful: Honeywell

    Bookmark   March 5, 2010 at 9:28PM
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A thermostat is essentially a switch that turns the HVAC equipment on or off in response to changes in room temperature. Kinda like a light switch turns the light on or off. Age is not much a factor in terms of efficiency in regards to digital specimens. The older mercury-bulb 'stats typically have an anticipator/heater device that can go bad and the spring coil on which the mercury bulb rides can get bent/wonky if it's grossly abused.

    Bookmark   March 5, 2010 at 11:07PM
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The thermostat itself uses basically no electricity. The only way it could be "inefficient" is if it lacked the options for you to control your temps to fit your lifestyle. Example - your "Daily" setting is fine if your work schedule is Monday-Friday at a fixed time. It would be inefficient if you had it set to heat up by 5:00, but always worked late on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. In that case, it would be more efficient to get a device that could handle each day individually.

    Bookmark   March 8, 2010 at 9:31AM
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So many posting I don't have time to read them.

An off hand helper that I am.

To save money try putting up decorative sheets in doorways
to isolate air flow from room to room. I found this saved
me $100 and kept me more comfortable when I put on 2 printed
pieces of materials in the doorway to the garage and to a
room near the outside.

They blocked air flow when I did not need those rooms cooled
or heated.

I doubt you need a new thermostat unless yours doesn't
turn on and off when you need it to do so.

Insulation is always the best place to spend money. Those
ideas I gave ARE insulation. : )

Good luck.


    Bookmark   March 13, 2010 at 12:50AM
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I wouldn't replace it. I'm sure you have better uses for the money and better ways to save fuel. I agree with closing off and zone heating. I am using less fuel now and have the temperature higher in the most-used living areas by closing off the kitchen from the living room. Close drapes and shades at night. Use window kits if your windows leak air. There's a lot of simple and low cost things to do. Plus just put on a sweatshirt and sweat pants and put a blanket over your knees when you're watching TV. Or cuddle up with someone!

    Bookmark   March 29, 2010 at 8:31PM
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