Heating and Air Service Can Include Thermostat Upgrade

If your thermostat was original equipment or was installed for earlier generation equipment, you may want to consider upgrading. Older technology, while still useful in some instances, is being replaced by newer and more sophisticated designs. Such a replacement could be an important part of your heating and air service, and a critical factor in cutting heating (and cooling) costs.


Two Kinds of Commonly Used Thermostats:

Bi-Metal Coil: The thermostat you grew up with may have been one with a round casing and a central temperature dial. This dial is hooked to a bimetal coil. Essentially, you get a flat metal coil, with one side one metal and the other side a second metal. Since each metal expands at a different rate as it heats up and contracts differently as it cools down, the coil will move circularly around itself during temperature changes. This allows a contact point attached to a temperature-setting lever to be moved towards or away from the end of the coil, where there is another contact point. On touching, an electric circuit is completed and whatever furnace or air conditioner is connected will go on at the selected temperature.

While simple and mechanically rugged, the design allows for some drawbacks.

  • It is an on-off proposition where only one temperature can be set and must be manually changed every time a different temperature is desired.

  • The contact points can become pitted and dirty and cause the thermostat to stick on or off, causing discomfort from non-optimum temperatures, erratic control and wasted energy or fuel by running past the time to shut off.

  • You need a separate control to handle each heating or cooling unit. This means remembering to shut off the air conditioning if you are changing over to the furnace. On occasion you could forget and waste energy running the AC while also heating the house.

An alternate design uses a small glass vial of mercury to act as the contact. This has the advantage of not corroding or getting dirty over time and would help to maintain accuracy. However, due to the highly poisonous nature of mercury, this has been outlawed in some countries and is being replaced by safer technologies in general.

Fully Electronic: Current design technology uses solid-state electronics and sensors, which allows for varying levels of sophistication in control choices.

  • One device can control all the heating and cooling in the house. Settings can include automatically switching over from heating to cooling, as needed.

  • Set it and forget it. Once it is set for all the options you want to call on, you shouldn’t have to mess with it again.

  • Needs are anticipated and the house ready to accommodate comfortable use when people are up and about or home from work, school or other normal activities. A variety of options are available to allow the user to pre-set varying times of day to start up and shut down. One can even determine differing on and off times for each day of the week.

  • Higher savings of fuel and power due to refined selection of when the heating and cooling takes place and assuring that nothing is needlessly running.

  • It is even possible to interface with the Internet to set controls remotely, as in the case of powering up a house that has been left in an at-rest mode while the resident has been away.

Heating and Air Service: Personalize Your Thermostat Control

As more and more homes are built with or changed over to central heating and air systems, heat pumps and the like, your choice will go from which thermostat type to use to what level of electronic control suits your needs. You may already have reached that point and need to consider an upgrade.

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