Everyone knows roughly how to set their thermostat, but this article will show you not only how to properly set it, but also how to help use the thermostat to extend the life of your furnace and central air units. The only thing most know is to turn up the temperature, or to lower it. Some people leave it on the same setting all year round. There are many variables to consider when selecting the right settings to keep it on, and change it to during different times of the year.
Here is a dumb-ed down version of what goes on when a thermostat is set. The temperature is set to the desired degrees, Celsius or Fahrenheit, which then tells the central unit when it needs to turn on or off, usually 2-3 degrees lower, for heat, or 2-3 degrees higher for cooling. Once the central unit begins it’s cycle, it cools or heats until the thermometer on the thermostat is satisfied, and then shuts off the central unit. Sounds simple doesn’t it? It’s meant to, which makes it a pretty simple process.
During the Spring and Fall, where temperatures vary considerably due to the massive changes in the weather, the thermostat may be changed 2-3 times a day, including just shutting it off, to save energy. Keep the temperature in a comfortable range, but do not be afraid to wear a sweater/sweatshirt, or peal off clothes at different times of the day. The thermostat may need to be switched from heat to cool, or cool to heat in the mornings and evening, or just switched off during the day when the sun is up and warming the outside air. Always remember, when switching between heat and cool modes, to let the system reset itself by turning it completely off for around 5 minutes. This gives it time to clear things in it’s computer brain, and compressors to reset as well, especially if heat pumps are involved.
In the summer, many air conditioners run almost non-stop during the day because we expect them to work under any conditions, no matter how hot it is outside. Machinery can only do so much, and most of the time less money was spent on the units themselves. A little known fact is that during cooling the air conditioners are only meant to cool rooms to around 20 degrees cooler then the outside air. That makes the math pretty simple, if it is 90 degrees out, we set it to just above 70 degrees, and that should cool us comfortably. The math continues, and some won’t like what it says. If the outside temperature is 100 degrees, we set the thermostat to just above 80 degrees. Doing this pretty regularly will save the life of your equipment. The average air conditioners were not meant to run 24/7 or even constantly for 16 hours straight. They need a rest or the coils could freeze up, in layman’s terms keeping them from being able to cool any room at all.
Heating, especially in winter, is a simpler process for our central units, but they do need some down times also, not as much though. Do not be afraid to turn the settings down to even as far as 60 degrees when no one is home for several hours. This will not only allow more breaks while heating during the day, but it is also a bit healthier to humans and animals to slowly warm up after being out in the cold. In the end, our thermostats and HVAC (Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning) units do their job as best as they can, but were never designed to turn the Antarctic into the Sahara, or the other way around. Using common sense will lower the heating and cooling bills, and help your HVAC equipment last longer, saving money and headaches of calling the repair man.