Q: I changed my own thermostat and now my bill are through the roof, what’s up?
A: Being one who does like to do seemingly simple tasks with little help but for the unquestionable internet, I can attest the results can be a mixed bag. The right search, great reviews, available on prime, arrives tomorrow, put in cart, so simple…. These projects can run the gamut from “gall bladder surgery for dummies” to “how to shave your cat in less than a minute.” Books and instant downloads, kits for this and that, self-help for everybody and everything. With all this unlimited knowledge on tap, how hard can a thermostat be to change out? This is one of those things that seem simple, yet many service calls have been generated by things gone sideways.
First off, if you have made the purchase, box in hand, just try and imagine yourself reading the instructions. Remember reading, you can watch some genius on line pull it off but I don’t know, there is something about reading that has worked for centuries now. What you immediately discover if you crack the book is the realization that this control is amazingly universal (unlike our healthcare). It is adaptable to every application except yours. Help line, tech line, on hold, elevator music, in que, disconnected, voice mail, wait…while the heat is off and wires are hanging out your wall. Tick-tock while your significant other quietly gathers blankets questioning your manhood if you can’t even change a thermostat (could he change a tire)?
Your will pull this off (you confidently say to yourself). And indeed, you do, wires in place, a glowing screen, now what? Is that a snowflake icon or a tiny sun, or a sunflower? Why is it initializing? What is “self-discover”? How do you turn it on? She just wants the heat back on, and you are realizing this little PIA is a miniature computer, and with that thought, you would be right. Connecting the wires correctly seemed challenging enough, now mastering the “set-up” phase may require a cold beverage of your liking. In all seriousness if I must, the correct settings for each application, be it a standard furnace, boiler, or heat pumps of all descriptions, is critical. This little laptop is loaded with different programs of how it will operate depending on what you choose, choose wisely.
Fortunately (for simplicities sake anyway) the majority of heating systems in the Flathead are gas furnaces or boilers. Pretty analog technology and most stats come out of the box knowing this. There are of course variations on the theme but good odds the unit will take off and run. Heat pumps are a much different situation. There are many more choices for the thermostat to make (if you set it up properly). There is always some degree of staging, which is a capacity control, deciding on which mode heat pump or electric heat should be operating. Not all manufacturers accomplish this in the same way and we had to address this on several occasions this winter, with improperly wired, and improperly set up thermostats. BIG electric bills are the result, so please if you are so inclined to do the install, make sure you follow up with a review of your electric and/or gas bills.
Schedule HVAC Spring Maintenance with Our Experts
Of course, AirWorks is here to assist if you get in a bind. The world is built on good intent and things like this often require some technical prowess (and experience doesn’t hurt either). Please remember, despite the glitter used to promote these high-tech controls, they will not make your old worn out HVAC system more efficient. Properly maintained and tested equipment is the key, and AirWorks technicians have been at it for decades in the Flathead Valley. Please give our office a call at (406) 257-1341 to schedule a spring maintenance.