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Thermostats and Controls


Quicklinks to other articles in this series:

What Are Thermostats and HVAC Controls?

Your thermostat is the part of your HVAC system that measures the temperature of your home. It also controls the system to turn on and off heating and cooling cycles.

Where Are Thermostats & Controls Located?

The ideal location for thermostats is in a hallway near the center of your home or business. Make sure to keep them away from air conditioning vents and direct sunlight. Because this can throw off the accuracy by extreme differences in temperature.

Since stoves and ovens in the kitchen can create large amounts of heat, avoid placing thermostats there . The same logic applies to a thermostat in a bathroom since the steam heat from a shower will produce a wrong reading.

How Do Thermostats Work?

Mechanical thermostats use a magnetic strip or a mercury bulb that energizes the heating or cooling system. Also they have a part known as a heating anticipator that must be set according to very specific instructions. Further they can contain mercury, a highly toxic and hazardous material. And so these thermostats are illegal to install. They have been upgraded to digital versions.

Digital thermostats use a device called a thermistor to measure the indoor temperature. A thermistor reacts to changes in temperature. Then a brain inside the thermostat converts the thermistor reading to a temperature reading.

What Makes Them Important?

The energy bill of your home or business is directly related to how efficiently a thermostat performs. The thermostat is the point of control over the entire HVAC system. Some homes and businesses use system zoning. This is a control panel that opens and closes duct dampers thru series of multiple thermostats. So it better regulates the temperature inside the home.

Different Types of Controls and Thermostats

Thermostats

Thermostats are either mechanical or digital. However, mechanical thermostats are older models, and most homes and businesses now use digital thermostats. Frequently, digital controls have digital displays that feature heating and cooling modes, fan speeds, and temperature adjustments. Many modern thermostats work well with whole-house air cleaners and/or variable-speed air conditioning systems.

Newer devices, like the popular Nest brand, have program features that can record energy use and adjust themselves to save money. In addition, others offer wireless access to control your thermostat from any mobile device. This results in more efficient energy use and savings on utility bills. Also, some work with automation bridges to combine with lighting controls, security systems, and even watering systems!

Maintenance and Repairs

Most thermostats do not need a lot of maintenance or repair. So before calling a technician, check your breaker panel for any tripped breakers. Make sure your thermostat has fresh batteries. Remove the thermostat’s front cover panel and clean any grime or dirt. A dirty thermostat that results in a difference of three degrees between its set temperature and the actual temperature can result in an increased fuel bill of 7 percent!

If those troubleshooting tips do not help, you should contact an experienced technician to replace the thermostat. The team at Bob Jenson is ready and waiting to assist if you need help or have questions with anything about your HVAC system.

4 Common Thermostat Errors and What They Mean.

Troubleshoot Your Thermostat

Your thermostat is the brain behind your HVAC system, and it plays an important role in maintaining comfortable temperatures throughout your home. However, when your HVAC system stops working, it’s common to overlook your thermostat as the culprit and not realize that faulty thermostats can lead to more than just temperature inconsistencies — they could even be the reason your system won’t turn on.

The good news is that most thermostat errors are easy to diagnose and repair with the help of the right HVAC specialist. Read below for a few of the most common thermostat errors and how to identify them before calling a service technician.

Before you contact an HVAC professional, check to see whether your breaker has been tripped, a fuse has been blown, or if someone set the temperature incorrectly. You should also verify that your thermostat isn’t out of batteries. These are all problems to troubleshoot yourself before seeking help from a professional.

However, if the thermostat is in fact receiving power, problems may be a sign of a more serious, complicated issue that will require the expertise of a trained HVAC specialist.

Common Thermostat Errors:

1) The Air Conditioner Isn’t Working

If you’re desperately trying to change the temperature and nothing seems to be working, it might be a sign of a thermostat malfunction.

If the thermostat is receiving power, turn off the thermostat breaker and safely remove the cover of the thermostat to look for a buildup of dirt or debris. These may be impairing the device from functioning properly. If you notice soot or grime in your thermostat, carefully remove and clean it with a can of compressed air or soft cloth. Ask a professional for help to prevent any damage to the thermostat or yourself.

2) The Setting and the Room Temperature Don’t Match

If the room temperature and your thermostat reading appear to be inconsistent, get a second opinion by taping a thermometer to your wall. If you notice a serious discrepancy between the readings of the thermostat and thermometer, this might indicate something is wrong with your thermostat.

A buildup of dirt causes inconsistencies in your thermostat reading, so follow the cleaning instructions above before considering any other causes. If dirt or debris aren’t hindering the device, the problem could be with your heat anticipator. The heat anticipator is the part of your thermostat that is responsible for turning off the furnace burners when a room or space is properly heated. Ask a professional for help with checking whether the heat anticipator is functional, stuck, or needs recalibration.

There also might be a difference between the thermostat setting and the room temperature if your thermostat is installed in a bad location. Direct sunlight, cold drafts, fireplaces, open windows, or other heating and cooling sources could impair your thermostat, and relocating it may help with more consistent readings.

3) The Device Doesn’t Turn Off

A thermostat that doesn’t turn on is troublesome, but a thermostat that won’t turn off could be just as bad. If your thermostat is continuously running, it can make your whole house feel uncomfortable — and seriously impact your energy bill.

Again, first check for grime or dirt in your thermostat before continuing to troubleshoot. If your thermostat is clean, the issue could be a poorly calibrated heat anticipator. If this is the case, get a professional HVAC technician to help you lengthen the cooling cycle of your thermostat.

4) The Temperature is Constantly Fluctuating

If your thermostat is constantly switching on and off but never reaches the temperature you want, you might need to reset the system.

In addition, you should check that the thermostat is installed correctly, as this can affect heat regulation. Use a level to see if the thermostat is mounted properly on the wall and check that it is not installed near any doors, windows, or other heating or cooling sources.

Improper heat regulation could also be related to the heat anticipator. If the dial is set to shorter cycles, it could cause the furnace to turn off and on more rapidly. Ask an HVAC technician to troubleshoot and calibrate the anticipator for you if you believe the device is the cause of your issue.

Address Thermostat Problems Immediately

Some issues with thermostats are easy to fix with a simple cleaning, reset, or change of batteries, but more serious issues require the help of a professional. Contact our HVAC specialists at Bob Jenson for help troubleshooting and repairing your thermostat to keep your HVAC system running smoothly.

Do You Have the Right Thermostat?

What Is a Thermostat?

The thermostat is the brain of your cooling and heating system.

Despite being the feature we use most often, it’s perhaps one of the most overlooked aspects of a HVAC system. Today, there are various types of thermostats on the market, ranging from basic manual models to smart systems that you can control with your smartphone. The question is: do you have the right thermostat for your home comfort needs?

Read on to find out more about this essential feature, as well as what each type of thermostat could offer you and your home.

The thermostat controls the temperature of your property on your behalf to reach your ideal comfort level. After achieving your preferred temperature, your thermostat maintains it by triggering your furnace or air conditioner when required.

There are many different types of thermostats available, and though they all function according to the same principles, each offers different levels of convenience and simplicity. To help you select the thermostat that’s most appealing to your needs, we’re going to look at the three most popular options:

  • Manual thermostats
  • Programmable thermostats
  • Smart thermostats

Manual Thermostats

Manual thermostats are the most basic solution for regulating your indoor heating. They feature either a mechanical or digital dial that you can adjust to your desired temperature. These systems are often found in older homes with more dated HVAC solutions. If you prefer simpler options for home comfort, however, you might want to choose manual thermostats over more complex technical options.

While manual thermostats are cheap and easy to use, they also offer the fewest convenience features of the three main options, and may not be as energy efficient. Some manual thermostats will have a programmable LED display so you can see the temperature you’ve chosen, and there will be an up-and-down button to pinpoint your ideal temperature.

Programmable Thermostats

Programmable thermostats are the next step up from manual systems when it comes to technical convenience. These solutions give you more control over your temperature preferences, and feature a digital display, or a touchscreen in some cases.

The most significant difference between manual and programmable thermostats is that programmable models regulate home temperature automatically according to pre-set targets. Your programmable thermostat will allow you to select a heating or cooling schedule that automatically adjusts the temperature of the house without the need for constant input. This way, you can save energy by having the indoor temperature hotter or colder than you’d usually like when you’re at work, but have your HVAC unit turn on before you get home to reach your preferred temperature.

Smart Thermostats

Smart thermostats are by far the most exciting option when it comes to temperature regulation. Often connected to the internet, smart models allow you to program your own custom climate schedules for each day. Depending on your chosen model, you can adjust the temperature in real-time via your smartphone or tablet, even when you’re away from the building. You could even be on the other side of the world and still be able to control your thermostat, provided you have an internet connection.

As consumers consistently demand more control over their home comfort, smart thermostat devices continue to evolve with new features. For instance, some of the latest models offer seven-day programming, as well as weather forecasts, analytics that show your energy usage, indoor air quality monitoring, and even automatic reminders to replace your filter. Depending on your HVAC system, you can manage up to eight different zones within your home simultaneously, which can save you as much as 12% on your heating bill, and 15% on cooling costs.

Do You Have the Right Thermostat?

Ultimately, choosing the right thermostat for your home will be a process that requires you to consider the existing setup you have and your future needs. You will either need to choose a thermostat that’s compatible with your current HVAC system, or replace the model in favor of something newer.

With decades of experience, the knowledgeable team at Bob Jenson can help you install the thermostat and HVAC system that’s right for you. Contact us today and speak to one of our experts to learn more about the kind of thermostat you should have in your home.

Brand Highlight: Nest

The History of Nest

Your home is the most important asset you have — it’s an investment not only into the real estate market, but also into the comfort and happiness of your family. Innovative technology is making it easier than ever for homeowners to upgrade their environments, making their homes smarter, more convenient, and even more appealing.

From smart thermostats that turn themselves off to save energy, to cameras that offer complete security when you’re away from the homestead, Nest is a company devoted to making home life safer and more comfortable for everyone.

The driving force behind Nest is the desire to create a home that’s smarter, more thoughtful, and completely equipped to take care of the people within it. That’s part of the reason why their products are so popular today.

Perhaps one of the best-known producers of programmable, sensor-driven, and self-learning home devices in the world, Nest first hit the market in 2011 with its very first “Learning” thermostat. The company itself was born in 2010 thanks to two engineers formally from Apple: Matt Rogers and Tony Fadell. The pair came up with the idea of smart home technology when Fadell was building a vacation home, and decided there should be better thermostats available on the market. By the end of 2012, they had over 130 employees.

The company didn’t stop at thermostats. The Nest Protect carbon monoxide and smoke detector entered the market in October 2013, and the next year Nest purchased the camera startup “Dropcam” for $555 million — a purchase that allowed them to integrate camera technology with their systems for sensing motion and providing security recordings.

Later in 2014, Alphabet Inc. (Google) purchased Nest Labs for $3.2 billion, when it had around 280 employees. By 2015, the number of employees had grown to 1100, and a new engineering center emerged in Seattle, marking the continued success of the Nest brand identity.

Nest Products

The official motto for the Nest Labs brand is “Nest reinvents unloved but important home products” — a line that seems to represent the product line perfectly. Using the latest in smart technology, their creations include smoke alarms, thermostats, and cameras that are sensor-driven, Wi-Fi enabled, and able to communicate across various channels. The brand’s three most popular products are shining examples of the company’s dedication to reinventing home products to improve your daily life.

The Nest Thermostat

This “learning thermostat” creates schedules based on your preferences, and saves energy by automatically shutting down when no one’s home. This tool allows you to check your energy history, gives you selections of energy-efficient temperatures, and even connects to a tablet or phone so you can control your home’s temperature from wherever you are.

The Nest “Protect”

Smarter than your average smoke alarm and carbon monoxide detector, this detector seeks out both slow and fast burning fires, and pinpoints the sources of danger in your home. With Nest Protect, you can issue false alarms when you accidentally burn dinner, and receive instant alerts about your house when you’re away from your property.

Nest Cameras

A home security camera that stands watch at all times, Nest cameras send instant alerts when motion is detected on your property. The device allows you to speak through the Nest app — a useful feature, whether you’re reminding your dog to stay off the couch, or surprising intruders with the sudden sound of your voice.

Why Choose Nest?

The most appealing feature of Nest products is their smart interactivity. Not only do you get the latest in innovative home comfort and security, but when you adopt multiple Nest products, you’re investing in a system of parts that work together to offer the best home experience. If your “Nest Protect” sounds an emergency smoke alarm, your Nest Cam can instantly start recording for insurance purposes.

If that’s not enough, Nest products like the “learning thermostat” automatically save energy, lowering your heating and cooling bill by automatically shutting down when you’re not home. Even those who religiously check their thermostat are unlikely to achieve the optimized results accomplished with Nest.

Nest Labs products don’t just interact with each other — they can interact with other products, too. For example, your Mercedes Benz can alert your Nest thermostat when you’re nearly home, so your thermostat can start cooling or heating to your preferred temperature. Your Nest thermostat can set your Whirlpool washer and dryer to run when you’re out, so you come home to just-dried, wrinkle-free clothing. If your Nest Protect detects elevated carbon monoxide levels, your LIFX bulbs can flash red to inform you there may be danger (especially helpful if you’re hearing impaired).

According to Nest, integrations like these are just the beginning.

Thermostat Efficiency: Small Adjustment, Big Savings

How to Save Money by Adjusting Your Thermostat Settings

It’s a rare day when we are not interested in finding additional ways to save money. From clipping coupons and buying generic home goods to curbing shopping sprees and holding off on that luxurious vacation, there is always a way that we can cinch up our belts and squeeze a little more savings out of our daily lives. But, not all attempts to save money and pinch pennies have to be so difficult. With a little bit of finagling we can curb the exodus of our cash just by making a few adjustments around the house.

A household’s heating and cooling charges are often the largest portion of your monthly utility bill. By making small adjustments to lower your usage while you are asleep, at work, or away on vacation, you can keep all the benefits of a comfortable home while saving some cash in the process.

Programmable Thermostats

Programmable thermostats are a great way to automatically adjust your home’s heating and air-conditioning throughout the day. By implementing a schedule that lowers the heat or air conditioning during specific hours, you can remain comfortable and still preserve the bulk of your paycheck.

There are many types of programmable thermostats on the market. Some are digital, some are eletromechanical, and others are a combination of both. Digital thermostats often provide the broadest array of options, but can be complicated to operate. For best results, find a thermostat that is straightforward in its operation and allows you the opportunity to get the most out of your home climate management.

In addition, be sure to locate your thermostat in an open area. Install your thermostat in a location where it is away from direct sunlight, drafts, windows, large obstructive furniture, or any other impositions that might throw off the reading.

Utility Bill Savings

Doing a self-check is also a great means by which to manage your utility bill. During the winter, are you ripping off your sweater the second you walk in the door? Alternatively, are you keeping your home as chilly as a supermarket frozen section during the summer?

For the most efficient energy-savings, the recommended setting for a thermostat is 78 degrees. You can achieve even greater savings by making further adjustments depending on the time of day or season of the year. For example, by simply dialing down your thermostat ten degrees for the eight hours you are asleep at night, you can save up to 15% on your heating bill. During the summer, you can save approximately six to eight percent off your home energy bill for every degree you raise your temperature above this recommended set point. This rule of thumb can be inversely applied to those colder months. In the winter, lowering your thermostat by 10 to 15 degrees for at least eight hours a day can help you reduce your energy bill by five to 15 percent. If the cold is too much to bear, consider increasing the humidity of your home’s environment to assist in providing a sense of warmth. Or don extra clothes, pull out those blankets, and check all your windows and doors for drafts.
By simply lowering your air conditioning during hours you are not at home or not awake, you can cash in big on savings.

With just a few changes to your home’s thermostat, you can shave a significant amount of money off of your utility bill, all without having to sacrifice your comfort. Saving money can be as simple as switching out your thermostat and programming your home’s climate to keep you perfectly comfortable.

5 Benefits To Having A Digital Thermostat in Your Home

Why Consider a Digital, Programmable Thermostat?

Still have your old mercury stat on the wall that’s from the 70’s? Many times when something just works we leave it alone, but it could be costing you money you could spend elsewhere. Here’s a fun infographic to share the benefits of going digital:

5 Benefits to a Digital Thermostat

What to look for in a good digital stat?

Programmable:
Don’t waste your money going digital and get a stat you can’t program. You may think you don’t want to hassle with it, but your trusted a/c contractor can help you set it up and show you how to make adjustments when needed. You’ll be happy you did when you walk in the door from a hot summer day and your house is a cool, refreshing oasis!

Energy Saving Mode:
Since the point of going digital is saving money, make sure the thermostat you choose has some sort of energy saving feature, like an ECO mode or an Auto Away feature. Some stats can even sense if your home or not!

Simple Easy-To-Use interface:
What ever you choose make sure the Interface or menus make sense to you, they should be simple and easy to use. Remember, a digital thermostat is suppose to make your life easier, not complicate it!

Professional Installation:
When in doubt have your trusted contractor install and setup the stat for you. This ensures you don’t cross live wires and blow a fuse and that you don’t miss anything. Remember this is what they do every day, take advantage of their experience!

Features You Want:
Make a list of what you want your new stat to do. Want to control your home’s temp from your smart phone? How about check your energy usage and settings right on your computer? Your equipment may have multiple stages of performance, will the new stat take advantage of those? Will the screen size and numbers be large and clear enough to see? Let your trusted a/c contractor know what your looking for and they can show you your options for controlling your home comfort while saving energy!

We have years of experience in helping customers find the right thermostat, just for them. Call or contact Bob Jenson A/C for free advice!

We’re Nest Certified Installers

We are excited to let you know we are Nest Certified Installers, which means our technicians can help you easily install your Nest thermostat and make sure your confident in using your Nest. Also many of our customers are choosing to go with Nest thermostats on there new comfort system installations. Most people don’t program their thermostats because they are so complicated and have been that way for years. Even if they have an efficient system they are missing out on great energy savings by running a scheduled program, up to 20% off there heating and cooling bills.

With Nest it’s so much easier to tell Nest how you like the comfort levels in your home by just using it. Nest learns what temp you like and when your home, it adapts to you. But as we know our schedules can change suddenly, image your coming home early and it’s cold out. You can control your Nest from your smart phone and bump up the temp a few degrees and walk thru the door to a cozy home. The newest version of Nest will now work with most system configurations including multi-stage heating and cooling, humidifying, dehumidifying and even zoning individual rooms. Call us today and ask if Nest can work for your existing system or how you can get Nest with your new comfort system installation.

Bob Jenson A/C is a Nest Certified Installer
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