Insider Look: How Thermostats Work

Insider Look: How Thermostats WorkThermostats brought automation to early heating systems, beginning with inventions to remotely control coal-fired basement furnaces as far back as the late 1800s. Throughout the 20th century, the residential standard was a manual thermostat that incorporated heat-sensitive metallic springs and a mercury switch to actuate the furnace and air conditioner.

Today, however, mechanical units are mostly extinct, replaced by digital programmable thermostats that offer superior accuracy and many conveniences beyond simply turning the system on and off.

Getting With the Program

Digital programmable thermostats are basically small, wall-mounted computers that automate HVAC functions to enhance comfort, convenience and support optimum energy efficiency. Instead of moving parts, digital models today incorporate heat-sensing electronics including the thermistor component that controls heating and cooling functions. Programmable settings automatically schedule temperature changes for different times of day and days of the week. Override function allows you to deviate from that schedule at any time, then automatically resume later. The Vacation option keeps an unoccupied house at a safe temperature economically while you’re away.

Staying Connected

Wi-fi connectivity makes your digital thermostat and whole-house environment accessible and adjustable from anywhere in the world. With a smartphone app or laptop you can remotely monitor temperatures and input changes, as well as receive alerts from your thermostat about required routine maintenance or a system malfunction.

Simplified Solutions

Because they contain no moving parts, digital thermostat reliability isn’t complicated by mechanical issues. However, if common faults occur, these solutions may resolve the issue:

  • No display. The thermostat’s not getting power. If the unit is battery powered, install fresh batteries. Check for a tripped circuit breaker if the thermostat is wired to house electricity.
  • Thermostat actuates at wrong temperature. Most digital models include a calibration function that may restore accuracy. Check the owner’s manual for instructions.
  • Erratic temperature control. Exposure to hot direct sunlight or cold breezes from nearby exterior doors may distort accurate temperature sensing. Relocate the thermostat further away from external temperature influences.

For 96 years, Paitson Bros. has kept Terre Haute homeowners up-to-date with the latest HVAC upgrades including digital programmable thermostats.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in Terre Haute, Indiana about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems). For more information about other HVAC topics, download our free Home Comfort Guide or call us at 812-645-6859. 

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