How Your Thermostat Works

Your thermostat is probably one of the least thought about, but most important, parts of your heating and cooling system. How is it the most important? Well, your thermostat controls the functions of your heat pump, AC, or HVAC unit, and helps it to control the ambient air temperature and quality of your home.

It also influences your utility bills. An improperly working or broken thermostat may cause your AC or heat pump to run constantly, or not at all. This isn’t a very efficient use of energy and can have a devastating effect on your utility budget. By understanding what your thermostat is and how it works, you can see how keeping your thermostat in good working order will keep you more comfortable and save you money at the same time.

If you have an older thermostat in your home, then it most likely has a mercury switch in it. A mercury switch is a small glass tube with mercury in it, which conducts electricity. When the mercury in this container reaches one of the wires in its container, it will either turn your AC or HVAC on or turn it off.

These types of thermostat also have two separate thermometers in them, made of coiled metallic strips. One of these is for the temperature dial, while the other controls the heating and cooling functions of your system. These thermostats also have two switches; one controls the circulation fan while the other serves to switch modes between heating and cooling.

These components work together to control your heating and cooling system by sending the appropriate signal to begin either the cooling or heating functions of the system they are connected to.

Digital thermostats, on the other hand, are a little different that the old style unit described above. These modern thermostats are connected to the AC or heat pump through a series of wires, and most of their functions are controlled by a circuit board.

These types of thermostats can control temperature a little more precisely than old style units can, and they have a few other functions older models do not as well. For example, newer units use a micro-controller to measure the air temperature and give a reading. They are also programmable, allowing for a more efficient use of the units they are connected to and offering a potential way to save money on utility bills as well.

By understanding how a thermostat functions, you can see how it can either cost or save you money, depending on its condition and how you use it.

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