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There are many different types of thermostats available for home central air and heating (HVAC) systems. Each type of central heating thermostat performs the same basic function: regulating the inside temperature of the home. Optional functions vary by thermostat model and include the ability to program different temperatures for different times, control over multiple heating and cooling systems, and remote access to thermostat controls. To choose the best thermostat for your needs, consider which optional features you will be most likely to use.
A basic central heating thermostat is best for households that want to maintain a constant temperature in the home at all times. These units allow you to adjust the temperature and turn the central heating system on and off. Some models feature digital displays with buttons to adjust the temperature setting, while others use simple dial or slider controls.
If there are times when no one is in your home, a central heating thermostat that you can program by the hour may be your best choice. With this type of HVAC thermostat, you can program a lower temperature setting for the times when the house will be empty, which can save money on your monthly electric bill. Program the thermostat to return to your preferred temperature about an hour before you return so that the house is warmed back up without a wait. You may program these thermostats by the day or for up to seven days at a time. Various models allow you to choose between options such as setting different temperatures seven days in a row; setting different temperatures for weekdays and weekends; and setting different temperatures for Monday through Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
You can also purchase a central heating thermostat that controls more than just the heating system. This type of thermostat will also work with air conditioning, ventilation and whole-house humidifier and dehumidifier systems. Typically, a multipurpose thermostat allows you to control a maximum of three of these systems from a single control.
A remote access central heating thermostat may be controlled from anywhere in the house or, for some models, even away from home. Units that allow you to adjust the settings while away from the wall-mounted thermostat but still in your home work much like a cordless phone, with a portable controller. More technologically-advanced central heating thermostat models can be controlled when you are away from home, via the Internet or telephone.