Posted by: edhui | June 7, 2012

Thermostats

I have always been amazed at the misunderstanding of thermostats by otherwise intelligent people.

Misunderstanding 1: It works like a switch- turn it up for on, turn it down for off.

Misunderstanding 2: It works like an accelerator or brake- the more you turn it up, the faster the room heats up, the more you turn it down, the faster the room cools down.

The fact is, a basic room thermostat turns your heating on full when the room is colder than a set temperature, and off completely when the room is warmer than the same set temperature, thus keeping the room at a nearly static temperature. You can do no better than set it at the temperature you want.

I’ve recently become aware that there is a further confusion:

Misunderstanding 3: Fitting windows that provide better insulation allows you to turn your thermostat down in the winter (resulting in saved fuel).

In reality, the fuel saving results in your the thermostat turning your heating on less often if your windows are better insulators, when it’s left at the same setting. This last misunderstanding is even more infuriating because it’s being perpetrated by companies that know better, in order to promote the turning down of a thermostat as an icon or shorthand of energy saving. See this ad:

I think thermostat education should be a compulsory part of the school curriculum, possibly as part of the PSHCE syllabus as well as the science syllabus, or else as a nation we won’t even save the energy that’s painless to save.

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