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Understanding HVAC Smart Thermostat Recovery Mode

For those who have recently upgraded to a smart thermostat for your home, firstly, congratulations! You’re just around the corner from not only a more comfortable home and HVAC setup, but also from reduced costs and a lower energy bill even as your HVAC quality increases – but at the same time, there might be a few new considerations to keep in mind in terms of how your smart thermostat differs from the others you’ve had in your life.

At My Buddy the Plumber, we’re proud to offer comprehensive smart thermostat services for those looking to make this upgrade, in addition to numerous other heating and air conditioning services. We’ll perform a full installation of your smart thermostat, no matter which brand or model you’ve chosen, configuring the entire system so it’s connected to your furnace, AC, ducts and more.

We’re also here to help with any of the minor issues you may experience with a new smart thermostat, or the new themes you have to get used to compared to your old model. One such theme: A feature known as “recovery mode” that’s present in most of today’s smart thermostats, one that helps you achieve the kind of energy efficiency you desire. However, if you don’t know how recovery mode works, or if you aren’t familiar with certain situations where recovery mode themes might signal issues with the thermostat or the HVAC system, this is valuable information to have on-hand. Here’s a primer on everything you should know.

Smart and Programmable Thermostats

While smart and programmable thermostats have some similar features, they are not the same. Both are advancements on older manual thermostats, which required a person in the home to change the dial anytime the temperature needed to be altered – only once this was done would the system kick into action.

When programmable thermostats were invented, however, they changed the game. Homeowners could now schedule their heating and cooling needs, including common work and sleep hours – this saves energy while also keeping the home comfortable.

The smart thermostat, however, has taken this theme even further. Not only can it be programmed in all the same ways as your programmable option, this can be done from your smartphone in any location, not the actual thermostat itself. In addition, smart thermostats actively “learn” over time, understanding your desired temperature and even tracking whether your home so it can lower your power usage while you’re gone. For those who want the absolute best in efficiency and control, the smart thermostat is the way to go.

Recovery Mode and Energy Savings

One of the key features that allows a smart thermostat to save you energy without sacrificing a modicum of comfort is known as recovery mode. Let’s say, for instance, that you’ve set your smart thermostat to hit a certain temperature by the time you get home from work each day around 5pm. After a few days of learning, your thermostat may realize it actually has to turn itself on and begin working about an hour before you’re home to achieve this temperature – as it begins to do this, it enters recovery mode.

Essentially, think of recovery mode as a way of “waking up” the system from power-saving mode, which it will enter when no one is home. This leads to a gradual change in temperature, which creates a much lower strain on the HVAC system and also uses less electricity – so you’ll be spending less on your energy bill each month. For manual thermostats where you’d simply be adjusting the temperature down or up by several degrees as soon as you got home, the strain and energy usage here will be much higher.

However, there are also situations where your smart thermostat may enter recovery mode in response to some kind of problem, including improper installation or programming. Our next couple sections will go over how to manage these cases.

Other Reasons for Recovery Mode

There are a few reasons why your smart thermostat may enter recovery mode despite no recent command from you to begin heating or cooling:

  • Timing: If you haven’t set the thermostat to automatically turn off or on at a given time, it may enter recovery mode on its own.
  • Settings change: If multiple people in your home have access to smart thermostat settings, someone changing them without your knowledge could also cause an entry into recovery mode.
  • Power surge: In some situations, a power surge will reset the smart thermostat back to its default configuration. It’s always good to check the thermostat after any power outage or surge.
  • Freon level: Finally, during the summer months where cooling is required, too little freon – or AC coolant – may lead to uneven cooling, and may even cause the smart thermostat to enter recovery mode without another explanation.

There are some other cases where recovery mode may trigger due to specific malfunctions in the HVAC system. If you regularly notice the system in recovery mode when you’re pretty sure it shouldn’t be, contact our team for assistance.

Turning Off Recovery Mode

Recovery mode is something of a self-fulfilling cycle: With the right settings, you can effectively remove your smart thermostat’s need for recovery mode. This can be done by keeping your temperature settings relatively close together – if the thermostat is only moving by a couple degrees within a given day, it won’t need recovery mode much or at all.

However, if your settings are several degrees apart and require major changes, you should leave recovery mode on to allow your system to reduce strain and electricity consumption. Rather than turning off recovery mode due to performance issues, you should consider whether freon level or some other system concern might actually be at play.

For more on smart thermostat recovery mode, or to learn about any of our plumbing or HVAC solutions, speak to the staff at My Buddy the Plumber today.

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