Across America, almost everybody relies on an air conditioning and heating system to keep them comfortable no matter the weather. The thermostat (whether it’s a programmable thermostat or not) is the unsung hero of the house, and you just never seem to notice how important it is until it breaks and you’re subjected to frigid cold or sweltering heat.
But just like any hero, your thermostat may have some flaws. It doesn’t have to break outright for there to be problems with your air conditioning. Instead, it may slip slowly out of balance from natural use. If your thermostat isn’t calibrated, it may read the temperature incorrectly and either heat or cool the house at the incorrect temperature. This may not seem like a big deal, but a few degrees make a big difference.
Since the colder weather is setting in, let’s take your heater as an example. You set the heat to 70 degrees – but your thermostat isn’t properly calibrated, and it’s actually running at 73 degrees. Especially if the thermostat chugs along at that temperature for an extended period of time, it can cause a huge spike in your fuel usage, and, as such, your energy bill.
So how can this be fixed? First, you need to see if there’s a discrepancy between your thermostat’s listed temperature and its output. This can be done by buying or otherwise tracking down a thermometer and affixing it to the wall right next to your thermostat. Pad it with a paper towel so it isn’t touching the wall, and leave it alone for 15 or so minutes to level out. Make sure there are no temperature or weather interferences to affect the reading.
Once done, check the thermometer. Does it read the same as your thermostat? Is it off? If it’s more than a degree off, it’s time to calibrate your thermostat. First, check to see if the thermostat is dirty. Remove the faceplate, blow away any dust you see and if there are any accessible contact points, try rubbing a new dollar bill between them to clean them. Use a soft brush to clean any coiled elements. Lastly, if your thermostat has a mercury vial, make sure the vial is level. If it isn’t, adjust the mounting screws until it’s level. Then, check everything again. If your thermostat is still off, it might be time for a new one. Try to recalibrate your thermostat once a year, and your wallet will thank you.
Ben is a retired Combat Controller with the United States Air Force. He started Champion AC in 2007. Ben is originally from the Mississippi Gulf Coast. He is happily married and an avid fan of the San Antonio Spurs and New Orleans Saints.