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How to control room thermostats


How to use your room thermostat


mechanical room thermostat


Dial room thermostat

This style of room thermostat is most common in mechanical style thermostats, but are also available in electro-mechanical versions. To control these type of thermostats you simply turn the dial round to the temperature that you would like the temperature to reach. On many dial thermostats you would usually hear a click when the boiler will fire up (model shown uses an LED light).



room thermostat
Non-programmable room thermostat

A digital room thermostat operates in much the same way as dial thermostat apart from instead of turning the dial to set your desired temperature you use the buttons and see the temperature reading on the screen. On a digistat you can usually see the current and desired temperature (large temp is current and small temp is targeted temp on model shown). On some thermostats you can pull down the front flap to reveal further controls. On the model shown you can set two different temperatures for night and day (by pressing both buttons in). Day mode illustrated with 'd' or night mode illustrated with 'n' will then be displayed on the top left of the screen. You may also have the opportunity to set a time on your thermostat, offering a simple on/off to a desired time.



programmable room thermostat
Programmable room thermostat

A programmable room thermostat is undoubtedly the most complex type of thermostat, but it is also the most beneficial if used correctly. Many of the basic features are retained from a non-programmable thermostat such as the way to set a target temperature whilst also seeing the current temperature. The biggest difference and the part that often causes confusion is when trying to use the timing function to set different temperatures for different parts of the day(s). Most of the buttons used to program the unit are usually located behind a flip down panel. One of the first things to set would be the clock settings (including summer time adjustment if applicable). Once you have the correct time displayed you can then go through day by day setting the number of events and the required temperature for each event. On the model shown you can have up to 6 events per day, meaning you can change the temperature up to 6 times each day.


You do not always have to keep to the programmed times and/or temperatures exactly, there are a number of override options available. On the model featured these are located on the front, with the top left button enabling either +1, +2 or +3 hours override. This means if for example you have programmed a temperature of 20 °C between 8am-9am and you want to extend this temperature across further comfort ranges you can press this button to extend the temperature for a further 1, 2 or 3 hours. The button below this is used to select the program setting, with the more curved line representing the 1 - 6 event programmed settings and the more constant single line representing an override to maintain event 1 temperature throughout the day up until event 6.


How to set your room thermostat



Standard mechanical or digital room thermostats


mechanical room thermostatThe way to set and use your room thermostat is to find the lowest temperature setting that you are comfortable with, and then simply leave it alone to do its job. It can be somewhat trial and error to find the correct temperature to use. You must firstly start with a lower temperature such 18°C – and then turn it up by one degree each day until you are comfortable with the temperature.


Once you have found the desired and comfortable temperature you will not usually have to adjust the thermostat any further and may simply waste energy and cost you more money if you do. You can of course adjust the temperature if it is a particularly cold day, or adjust from season to season, but the important thing to remember is always try to find the minimum required temperature to save energy and money.


room thermostatIf your heating system is a boiler with radiators, there will usually be only one room thermostat to control the whole house. But you can have different temperatures in individual rooms by installing thermostatic radiator valves (TRVs) on individual radiators or through separate zone heating. If you don’t have TRVs or zone heating, you should choose a temperature that is reasonable for the whole house. If you do have TRVs, you can choose a slightly higher setting to make sure that even the coldest room is comfortable, then prevent any overheating in other rooms by adjusting the TRVs.


Room thermostats need a free flow of air to sense the temperature, so they must not be covered by curtains or blocked by furniture. Nearby electric fires, televisions, wall or table lamps may prevent the thermostat from working properly.


Programmable room thermostats


programmable room thermostatTo initially set your programmable room thermostat you must follow the same procedure as a normal room thermostat, find the lowest temperature that you are comfortable with. This will form the basis of settings especially throughout the day. Once you have found the lowest temperature that you think will be sufficient throughout the day you will then need to work out your lifestyle pattern to work out how many different temperature changes are required throughout the day. For example if you and any other occupants are always out throughout the day then there is no need to keep the heating as high (but never turn it off fully), so you would want to time the heating to come on to the required temperature when you or other occupants return home.


There is no exact science behind programming your room thermostat and a great deal of the settings will come from trial and error, but there are a few simple patterns that are usually always most appropriate.

  • Early morning temperature set before you actually wake up as to give chance for the heating system to reach temperature
  • Reduce temperature mid-morning
  • Further reduce temperature in the afternoon, especially if your home is to be left vacant, but always leave the heating temperature set to a minimum ambient temperature
  • In the latter afternoon Increase temperature to a higher temperature than throughout the day
  • In the late evening and throughout the night reduce the temperature back down to a more ambient temperature, perhaps to 15°C

how to set your programmable room thermostat


The time on the programmer must be correct. Some programmer types have to be adjusted in spring and autumn as the time changes between Greenwich Mean Time and British Summer Time.



In other respects your programmable room thermostat needs the same requirements for positioning as a normal room thermostat. You can also use a programmable room thermostat in conjunction with TRV's throughout the home to offer a more flexible heating system.

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