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How to Maximize Comfort with a Thermostat

Ask This Old House plumbing and heating expert Richard Trethewey and home technology expert Ross Trethewey discuss improvements to thermostats and how they contribute to comfort in a home

Richard and Ross emphasize that the thermostat temperature is just one measurement in the category of comfort. In their field, they work to ensure that the environment is comfortable based on the following data points.

  • Temperature: Is the space warm or cool enough?
  • Humidity: Is there too much (or not enough) moisture in the air?
  • Airspeed: Is the general air flow of the house causing the occupants to feel colder than they should?
  • Mean radiant temperature: Are there surfaces in the room (like windows, floor tiles, etc.) that are different from the occupants’ body temperatures that are making them feel warmer or colder?

How Can You Maximize Comfort with a Thermostat?

Upgrading to modern thermostats with features like motion sensors can help! When combined with smarter furnaces or boilers, these devices can account for more of the factors above to make the home more comfortable.


While Richard and Ross emphasize that temperature is just one measure of comfort in a home, they also point out that innovations in new thermostats are allowing room temperatures to be more precise and more effective than in the past.

To demonstrate this, they referenced a variety of different thermostats, including the Nest Learning Thermostat and the Ecobee 4 Smart Thermostat, which can be found at most home centers.