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How to Use Central Heating Thermostat


However powerful your boiler is, without a well an operational thermostat, you will never fully enjoy the comfort and convenience of well-regulated room temperatures. In other words, your central heating thermostat is essential for controlling heat levels in your home’s different zones and rooms.

Installing a central heating thermostat in your home is not enough, though. Without learning how to use them, you will have a hard time regulating the temperatures of various rooms in your home to suit your needs and keep fuel bills low.

Understandably, many homeowners have a hard time understanding how a central heating thermostat works. Given the different types and models of central heating thermostats in the UK market, how can one not be confused?

Well, lucky for you, you’ve come to the right place. In our 6-minute guide, we will teach you all there is to learn about using a central heating thermostat.

But before we delve into that, we are going to start with the basics of how a central heating thermostat works and the various types of central heating thermostats.

What is a Central Heating Thermostat, and How Does it Work?

Given that you’ve installed a heater in your home, you’ll want it firing up whenever temperatures are too cold. When the room is sufficiently warm on its own, you would wish to have your central heating system switching off to avoid raising temperatures to uncomfortable values and wasting energy.

But let’s face it. If you were to go to and fro, alternately switching your heater on and off, you’d tire yourself out. So, what do you do? You leave the job to the central heating thermostat.

A central heating thermostat is a device used to regulate the output of your heating system to maintain ambient room temperatures.

Central heating thermostats work by monitoring temperatures in your home, alternately switching on and off the heating system to maintain comfortable temperatures.

The thermostat switches on the heating if temperatures are too cold, and the room begins to warm up.  When temperatures reach a preset level, the thermostat switches off the central heating system to ensure the room doesn’t become unbearably warm.

So the thing with thermostats is that you can manually or automatically set temperatures to a value you desire your room to be maintained. When temperatures fall below this value, the boiler will be fired back into operation, while when they exceed the set value, the boiler is switched off.

Where Should I Install a Central Heating Thermostat?

The very first thing you should do if you want to enjoy the convenience of a central heating thermostat is to position it in a convenient location. You wouldn’t want it placed in a position that will result in your home’s central heating overworking and inflating your energy costs.

Some of the ideal positions to install your central heating thermostats include:

  • Near the centre of your home. Since the thermostat reads the average temperature of your home to determine when to turn on the boiler and when to turn it off, it only fits to install it near the centre of your home for accurate average readings.
  • About 5ft above the floor. Have you ever heard of convection? Well, never mind. The thing is, hot air rises, and if you place your thermostat high on the wall, it will register an inflated temperature value and shut down the boiler. By shutting off the boiler, the heat supply to the room will be stopped long before the desired temperature is reached. About 5ft above the ground, on the other hand, will give a more accurate average room temperature reading.
  • On an interior wall. Given that external walls are often much cooler than interior walls mounting your thermostat on them will see the boiler warming your house even when there is no need. Therefore, it is advisable to install the thermostat on an interior wall as it will be able to register a more accurate reading of your home’s temperature.
  • In frequently used rooms. You want a frequently used room such as the living room is maintained at the most comfortable temperatures. Therefore, you should install your thermostat in such a location to ensure it is maintained at the right temperature all year round.

On the other hand, avoid installing your central heating thermostat in the following places:

  • Behind obstacles such as curtains or furniture prevent the free flow of air into the thermostat; hence it cannot take accurate average room temperatures.
  • In direct sunlight as the thermostat may have a false idea that your home is hot and instruct the boiler to shut down when this is not the case.
  • Blasts of hot air from the oven or an open freezer may confuse the thermostat in the kitchen.
  • Above radiators or the boiler, as these areas are generally warmer than most parts of your home, and the thermostat may instruct the boiler to shut down.
  • Near windows or doors where it is affected by draughts of cold air.
  • Above air vents
  • In the coldest or hottest room in your home, they don’t generally reflect the average temperatures in other rooms.

What Are the Various Types of Central Heating Thermostats And How Are They Used?

There are four types and different models of central heating thermostats currently available in the market.  The distinction between these central heating controls is vast and is the basis for differentiating how they work.

Here are the four main types of central heating thermostats and how they work.

  1. Manual Room Thermostats

A manual room thermostat allows you to manually set your room temperature to a particular value you want to maintain. The thermostat automatically turns the heating on and off when temperatures fall below or rise above this preset value. Alternatively, you can manually turn the heating on or off by flipping the switch on the thermostat.

Manual room thermostats are operated either by mercury indicators, metal contacts, or digital systems.

The most common operating system of manual room thermostats is the bi-metallic strip. These units contain two metals bolted together to form a strip that is highly sensitive to surrounding temperatures. When temperatures are high, one metal expands faster than the other, resulting in a slight strip bending. The bending breaks the electric circuit, and the electricity switches off, cutting out the heating.

When temperatures fall too low, the bi-metallic strip contacts, resulting in the straightening of the earlier bend. The straightening completes the electric circuit, and the boiler fires back to life.

Newer models of manual room thermostats contain a digital control system. This digital control system enables you to set the desired room temperature. The thermostat also has an electric temperature gauge that precisely senses temperature changes in the room.

When temperatures rise above or fall below the preset temperature, the thermostat signals the heating system to shut down or fire up, depending on whether the heating is needed or not.

Mercury operated manual thermostats are rapidly being phased out due to the dangers associated with mercury.

  1. Programmable Room Thermostats

A programmable room thermostat lets you set your desired temperature settings as well as ‘On’ and ‘Off’ times for these settings to kick in.  It allows you to choose what times of the day you want the heating in your home to be on and what temperature should be maintained while it is on.

The programmable room thermostat will give you the freedom to select different times of the day to heat your home, say when you are about to get home from work. You can even set temperatures for the different days of the week, depending on whether you’ll be home or not.

However, one thing to note is that turning a programmable room heater to higher settings will not result in faster heating of the room. You will just be wasting heat and fuel since the rate at which a room heats up depends on the design of the heating system.

To find the perfect setting for your programmable thermostat, start by selecting the lowest possible temperature you are comfortable with at the different times you want the heating to be on. Once this is done, you can adjust it by adding increments of one degree every day until you find the most suitable settings.

  1. Smart Thermostats

A smart room thermostat works through a wireless internet connection and allows you to access and manage your home’s temperature from any location using a smart device. Smart thermostats have a connected mobile app that you can install on your smart device. The app enables you to adjust your home’s temperature even when you are away.

Alternatively, you can control the heating system remotely via the web browser or text message.

Some of the more sophisticated smart thermostats can even comprehend your schedule and preferences. These types of thermostats can predict when you’re heading home and adjust temperatures in the house to the desired levels.

Smart thermostats even have a zone control feature that allows you to heat different rooms in your home at different times.

Other features of smart thermostats include temperature graphs for tracking your energy consumption, automatic frost protection, and a boost function for overriding scheduled settings.

  1. Thermostatic Radiator Valves (TRVs)

A thermostatic radiator valve is a device you can fit directly on top or bottom of radiators to control heating in different rooms.

The TRVs adjusts the flow of water into different radiators in your home according to your settings. The TRV has a head that expands as the room heats. As it expands, the TRV head blocks the valve body and the amount of water allowed into the radiator decreases.

On the other hand, when room temperatures drop, the valve head contracts and more hot water is let into the radiator.

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