Electric Heat Pump & Programmable Thermostat
I have an older electric heat pump (17 years old) to which I've added a programmable thermostat (Honeywell CT3611). I live in an area with a moderate winter (Baltimore/DC area). Supposedly, the thermostat has "Smart Response" technology. For example, let's say you program the thermostat for 62 degrees overnight and 68 at 8AM. The theory is that the thermostat "learns" to how to automatically adjust the setpoint temperature so that it will reach 68 degrees at 8AM without using the auxillary heat. In this example, it might learn to change the setpoint to 64 at 7AM and then 66 at 7:30 so that it can get to 68 at 8AM without using the auxillary heat.
That's the theory. Here's how mine is programmed- 60 degrees at 9PM, 63 at 6AM then 66 at 8AM. Unfortunately, most of the time when I look at the thermostat at around 8AM, I see the AUX heat light on and I'm worried that the electricity I'm saving overnight is getting burned up in the morning.
Does anyone have any experience with these or similar programmable thermostats? Is the "Smart Technology" a crock & I should just leave the temperature constant? Is the temperature change I have programmed too large? Is the intermediate temperature step at 6AM throwing things off and I should just have the temperature at 6AM be the same as the final temperature (66 degrees)?
On a related issue- To avoid "wasting" money when the auxillary heat comes on, a neighbor disconnected the auxillary heat wire in the thermostat. I've been tempted to do the same thing but I assume this is not a good thing to do because on those really old days, your heatpump can't get to the required temperature without the aux heat & just runs & runs. What is the impact of disconnecting your auxillary heat?
While I'm asking questions...is there any reason to replace an older heat pump with a newer and supposedly more efficient heatpump? My 17 year old heat pump is working fine and it passes its yearly checkup with flying colors. However, I assume heat pump efficiency has improved over the past 15 years and I imagine it is just a matter of time before mine will need to be replaced (mine is one of the last "original" heat pumps in our development). Does the improved efficiency & monthly cost savings of a new heat pump justify replacing a functioning albeit less efficient unit?
If you've made though all this- thanks. Any comments/suggestions would be appreciated.