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Thermostat

The word thermostat refers to a device that's designed to maintain a stable temperature in a defined environment: air, liquid, appliance, etc. However, when we say thermostat we usually mean an atmosphere thermostat, a device that's connected to a domestic boiler to maintain a defined temperature (also called the setpoint temperature) in a home.

A thermostat measures the temperature in a home and switches off the heating once the target temperature has been reached. This regulation ensures improved comfort in the home while preventing overheating and constant variations in temperature, and also makes it easier to save energy.

Why should I install an atmosphere thermostat in my home?

Without an atmosphere thermostat you need to manually adjust your boiler when you think you've achieved the desired temperature in your home or if you think the temperature has fallen. This requires constant attention and also means inaccurate adjustments.

What's more, the French environment and energy conservation agency (ADEME) recommends a temperature of no more than 19°C in the living areas of your home. An atmosphere thermostat allows you to maintain this temperature without having to think about it, thereby preventing overheating and uncomfortable temperature changes. You can also adjust the setpoint temperature to your comfort requirements: whether you're sensitive to the cold or more resistant, often out of the house or a stay-at-home type, a thermostat helps you maintain a pleasant environment at home.

An atmosphere thermostat means an end to icy cold temperatures in the early morning if you've turned off the boiler in the evening, as well as overheating if you forget to switch it off! The temperature is adjusted automatically based on your settings and is maintained even if there are leaks in the insulation or people are coming in and out of your home.

The different types of atmosphere thermostat

There are many different types of thermostats for your boiler. It's up to you to choose one based on your budget, the constraints of your home and your heating adjustment requirements.
  • Electromechanical thermostats
These are the cheapest and most basic products. A graduated wheel or knob allows you to adjust the temperature to the nearest degree. The boiler switches off when the chosen temperature is reached and starts up again when the temperature falls. This is an option if your budget is restricted, although bear in mind that you won't be able to program different temperatures for different times of the day.
  • Programmable electronic thermostats
These more advanced thermostats are also more accurate than mechanical products. The digital display makes them easy to read and you can adjust the temperature to the nearest tenth of a degree. Another significant advantage is that an electronic thermostat lets you program personalised temperature settings based on your habits, notably the times when you're at home. An eco and comfort mode at the very least are included, although the more sophisticated products have a programming feature that gives you more options. A programmable thermostat allows you to adjust the temperature according to different periods of the day (when you're at home/out), the days of the week (weekend), when you're away on holiday, etc. so that you can have the heating on only when necessary, with the temperature adapted to all kinds of situations.
  • Wireless thermostats
The main benefit of wireless thermostats is that they're easy to install. Although they cost a bit more than wired thermostats, you'll still make savings on the installation costs. You don't need to have a power source nearby, there's no need for a wired connection between the boiler and the thermostat and most importantly you don't need to have a cable running between the boiler and the living area where the temperature is used as a reference, as a wireless thermostat works via radio waves or infrared. You just position your thermostat wherever you like and there's no problem moving it later on if you find a better spot.

It's also recommended to use a wireless atmosphere thermostat if the layout of the property and the position of the boiler means you have to install your thermostat nearby something like a chimney or a wood stove that could cause inaccurate temperature measurements. This would make the boiler switch off because it thinks the setpoint temperature has been reached, even though the rest of the home hasn't been heated yet.
  • Wired thermostats
Wired thermostats, another solution for controlled heating, have as many advantages as their wireless counterparts. A wired thermostat is cheaper, there's no uncertainty about whether it's connected and there's no risk of interference with the radio waves from other devices. The only condition is that a wired thermostat needs to be properly placed to ensure it works correctly: in a living area, far from any heat source or air currents. What's more, if you're replacing a thermostat that already needed wiring, installing a new wired thermostat won't pose any problems.
  • Why not get a smart thermostat?
Smart thermostats are also available. The goal is the same as with any atmosphere thermostat, i.e. to regulate and program the heating to obtain a comfortable temperature and save on your energy bill. However, a smart thermostat is even more sophisticated in terms of programming and allows you to optimise the running of your boiler even more effectively.

There are many benefits to a smart atmosphere thermostat. Although they're more expensive than standard thermostats, they allow you to control the heating remotely on your computer or smartphone using a dedicated app. Wherever you are and at any time, you can adjust the running of your boiler and the programming of your atmosphere thermostat. This allows you to manage unexpected events, take action if you've forgotten to switch the heating on or off or plan ahead so that it's nice and warm when you get back home.

A smart thermostat can also be more accurately programmed according to your habits. For example, after you've answered a few questions, the Netatmo smart thermostat defines a heating schedule that's suited to your timetable and weekly habits. This allows you to make more energy savings compared with a standard atmosphere thermostat, saving you around 30% on your energy bill.

Lastly, a smart thermostat lets you improve your boiler management over the long term. Using an app you can track your consumption and see a record of the temperatures in your home. If you're looking to make savings, you can accurately see how your boiler is being used and program it accordingly.
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How an atmosphere thermostat impacts energy savings

The ADEME maintains that using an atmosphere thermostat can save you up to 20% on your energy bill compared with using a boiler without a thermostat. However, the savings may depend on the type of thermostat you choose. With a non-programmable standard thermostat you can control the temperature more precisely, although you can't adapt the heating to your habits. This means the energy savings will be lower than with a programmable thermostat. Nevertheless, given that below 19° every one-degree drop in your heating can save you up to 7% on your energy bill, a simple thermostat is still a valid option.

A programmable thermostat obviously allows you to make significant energy savings by programming different temperatures for different times of the day. Meanwhile, a smart programmable thermostat is the king of atmosphere thermostats when it comes to energy savings thanks to its even more detailed programming, and it's one of the essential accessories you need for managing your heating.

Installing an atmosphere thermostat

To ensure optimal running and actually achieve the setpoint temperature, it's important to follow certain rules when installing an atmosphere thermostat. It's best to use a professional if you're in any doubt or if the layout of your home poses any particular difficulties.

Carefully choose where you put your thermostat: it needs to be away from air currents and heat sources (radiators, chimney, electronic devices), which could produce inaccurate temperature readings by the thermostat. Choose a central room where you spend a lot of time: most people decide to install their atmosphere thermostat in the living room. Lastly, it should be placed around 1.50 m off the floor. This is important for ensuring reliable temperature measurements and optimal adjustment of your heating.

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