The thermostat is the device that is used to set the temperature in a home/ office so that it is pleasantly comfortable. Once the thermostat has been set, it is rarely touched. The thermostat is a relatively simple gadget that is linked to the HVAC (heating, ventilating, and air-conditioning system). It is well worth getting to know how your thermostat works and to realize that by adjusting the setting by just a few degrees you can make a big impact on the amount of energy you consume and also on the amount you pay for your heating bills. 

We explain here how to tell if your home thermostat is bad.  

The basics about thermostats

Broadly speaking, there are three main types of thermostats in homes. The first is the older style analog thermostat which is mechanical and manual and has a dial marked in degrees, that is very straightforward to use as you simply rotate the dial to your chosen temperature.  The second type of thermostat is the digital thermostat. This type is slightly harder to control as it involves a push-button control panel. The latest type of digital thermostats is smart ones.

Smart thermostats when they are installed, get to know the heating patterns in a house and will turn the heating on and off accordingly to maintain the required temperature throughout. These thermostats can be connected via Wi- Fi linked to your home internet and can be controlled by an app on your mobile phone, tablet or laptop. For those who seek total control of their heating, individual thermostatic valves can also be fitted to each radiator.

The average temperature for a home is 18-21ºC, although elderly people usually require their home to be slightly warmer. It is best to experiment by setting the thermostat at 18ºC and see how you get on and whether your home feels comfortable. Setting your thermostat even 1ºC lower will make a significant difference to your heating bills. 

A common mistake made with thermostats

The main principle of a thermostat – be it analog or digital – is to maintain your home at your chosen temperature, which it will do by switching the radiators on and off. 

Many householders wrongly believe that when it is really cold outside, they need to alter the thermostat to a higher temperature. In reality, this is totally unnecessary as the thermostat will maintain the chosen temperature in your home. By raising the thermostat you are actually making the constant temperature higher than you normally have it and the result is that you will consume more energy and pay dearly for it! 

Likewise, in the summer months, there is no need to adjust your thermostat as it automatically maintains the chosen temperature in your home so none of your radiators will be turned on all the time the air temperature in your home is higher than the temperature you have set on your thermostat.   

How to make the most of your thermostat

The best way to use your thermostat as economically as possible, is to select a program or design one yourself that mirrors your family’s needs. If you are out all day through, the thermostat can be programmed so that your home is warm for when you wake up, cooler throughout the day when no one is at home, and then warmer in the evening until everyone goes to bed. 

Experiment with the temperature on your thermostat because it will save you a surprising amount of money if you can reduce it by 1- 2ºC. Discuss the idea with your family and ask if everyone is happy to wear jumpers in the house during the winter months? There is something wrong and it is very wasteful of energy when everyone thinks the house should be warm enough to wear tee-shirts in December! This is certainly food for thought in these days of global warming. 

Signs your thermostat is bad

Thermostats need hardly any maintenance, other than a regular, gentle wipe and they usually last 10-12 years. Thermostats can start malfunctioning either because their wiring has aged or there has been an accumulation of dust. There are several tell-tale signs that your thermostat is bad and this helps you to make the decision that it is time to change the thermostat.

The most common indicator is when your heating or air conditioning systems have no power and are not responding. There are other indications that it is time to replace your thermostat:

  • Your heating system is running constantly and will not switch off.
  • The temperature in your rooms and the setting on your thermostat do not match and the temperature in the rooms keeps fluctuating.
  • Leakage from the housing/mounting of the thermostat- this can be seepage of any kind, drips or bleeds in or around the thermostat.
  • Rust or corrosion developing on the housing/mounting
  • A build up of any kind of deposit on or around the thermostat
  • The wiring in your thermostat has started to fray and makes it hard for the thermostat to connect to your HVAC system.
  • The sensor on the thermostat is malfunctioning. This can happen due to age or a manufacturing defect.
  • There has recently been a huge increase in your heating bills.

Are there tests that check your thermostat is bad?

Fluctuating temperatures in your home or your HVAC system not coming on or not switching off are all clear signs that your thermostat is bad and needs replacing. A simple test that you can do to check for yourself is to use a portable indoor thermometer in each room to check the temperature as this will soon indicate if there is a problem with your thermostat. 

Once the decision is made

True, there never seems to be a good time to get the thermostat changed. You can get a heating technician to repair the thermostat but this is usually only successful for a limited period of time. Although 10-12 years is the average life of a thermostat, many householders change theirs more frequently because there are many exciting changes being made in the thermostat design to make them as effective and cost-efficient as possible. 

How to choose the ideal thermostat

Needless to say, there are a number of different options available on the market when it comes to choosing a replacement thermostat and each type offers different features. The best advice is to take things slowly and really assess which type of thermostat will suit your lifestyle best. Here are the main different kinds of thermostats available to replace your old one:

Smart Thermostats

This type of thermostat is programmable but you don’t have to program it every day. The thermostat monitors your pattern of home heating and then creates its own schedule that mirrors it exactly. 

Remote Energy Management Thermostats

This is the latest generation of thermostats and is definitely proving popular as homeowners can use it to conserve energy and reduce their carbon footprint and save money. Using this system, you can program and monitor your HVAC system using Wi-Fi and your smartphone, tablet, or PC/ laptop 

Programmable Thermostats

This type of thermostat automatically adjusts the set temperatures in your home throughout the day – to your specifications. This is ideal if you and your family are out for much of the day. Seven-day programs are available so that you can have the heating on more during the weekend. This type of thermostat is the most efficient of all.

Digital Non-programmable Thermostats

All modern thermostats have a digital readout which takes a little while to master, but this type of thermostat is ideal for those who want to control their heating system manually and has the benefits of an easy-to-read LCD display. 

Manual Thermostats

A manual thermostat gives you the freedom to control the temperature of your home at the touch of a button. This type of thermostat is ideal for those who spent most of the day at home.

Additional reading:

And the bottom line

Energy efficiency is high on everyone’s priority following the stark warnings given by delegates at the COP 26 conference that took place recently in Glasgow. It is definitely vital that all homeowners review their carbon footprint right now. Ensure that you have the most energy-efficient thermostat which will minimize the amount of energy you use which is definitely good for the world and also your bank balance. As winter approaches, now is the time to look at other changes you can make.

If the windows in your house are old, consider having double or even triple-glazed windows installed as these will reduce your heating bills by up to 30%, and they will add value at least 10%  to the value of your property when you come to sell. Likewise, if you do not have good loft insulation, it is really worth installing this right away because as much as 20% of heat is lost through the roof. You will be surprised how reasonably priced it is to install top-quality roof insulation too and you will start reaping the benefit straight away.

By just taking these three measures you will drastically reduce the amount of energy you consume and slash your fuel bills. Why not start by arranging to have your thermostat changed for a more modern one – today?


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