4 Surprising Facts About Your Thermostats

What do you picture when you think of crucial elements of your home’s HVAC system? If you’re like many homeowners, then your outdoor condenser unit or indoor air handler probably spring to mind. While these high-ticket items often take center stage, few homeowners consider the humble thermostat. These simple devices can be surprisingly vital elements of home comfort, however.

If you haven’t given your thermostats much thought recently, then this article is for you. Below, you will find four surprising facts about your thermostats, along with some tips and tricks for using them to maximize your home’s comfort and cooling efficiency.

1. Thermostats Are On/Off Switches

A common misconception among many homeowners is that thermostats can control air temperature. In reality, thermostats typically have a single function: to turn the AC compressor on or off. If the ambient air temperature near the thermostat is higher than the set temperature, then your AC compressor will run. If not, it will shut off.

In practice, this mode of operation means that turning your thermostat down won’t cool your house any faster. Many homeowners mistakenly attempt to lower their temperature on hot days, forcing their AC to run for longer. Setting one desired temperature when you are home and leaving it alone can help to improve cooling efficiency and reduce wear on your system.

2. Thermostat Placement Matters

Since your thermostat measures ambient temperature to manage your AC, placement is essential for cooling efficiency. Thermostats near vents or in direct sunlight may cool down or heat up too quickly, ultimately leading to inefficient cooling behavior. As a general rule, thermostats work best when in a central location.

Thermostat placement becomes even more critical with zoned systems. Thermostats that receive cold air from neighboring zones may shut off too soon, ultimately negating the advantage of multiple zones. Improper thermostat placement or zones that lack adequate separation (with doors or curtains, for example) can significantly impact the operation of your home’s air conditioning system.

3. Thermostat Movement Isn’t Easy

Although placement matters, moving your thermostat to a new location may not be as simple as it appears. Your home’s thermostats require connections to your outdoor condenser unit, your air handler or furnace, as well as any indoor air quality items you may have. If you have some slack on the existing wires, then moving your thermostat a few feet along the same wall may be relatively easy.

Sadly, many thermostat placement issues require more drastic work to fix. Moving your thermostat to a neighboring wall or another room may require running significant lengths of new wire. In most cases, this is a job best left to a professional. Before undertaking this potentially expensive project, be sure to consult with an experienced HVAC technician to determine the best new position for your thermostat.

4. Smart Thermostats Aren’t a Gimmick

If you think that thermostats with fancy screens and high-end features are just a gimmick, think again. Modern thermostats can be more than just straightforward on/off switches, opening new possibilities for efficiency. Even if you are not interested in using the internet-enabled home automation features on many smart thermostats, they still offer compelling advantages.

Aside from scheduling, remote sensors are one key feature in many newer smart thermostats. You can place these sensors in neighboring rooms, allowing the thermostat to do more than sense just the temperature around it. By expanding your thermostat’s temperature-sensing capabilities, you can improve its ability to control your home’s AC system efficiently.

Understanding how your thermostats work and how you can improve their operation can allow you to enjoy a cooler, more comfortable home all summer long. Advanced Heating & Cooling can help you to evaluate potential problems with your thermostat or help with any other HVAC problems you may experience.

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