Thermostat Problems Lead to Inefficient Operation

Thermostat Problems Lead to Inefficient Operation

When problems arise with your cooling system, your comfort level can plummet quickly. While there are many possible causes, it is a good idea to start with the thermostat. Sometimes just a simple adjustment can resolve thermostat problems, restore comfort and save energy.

Cooling System Doesn’t Start Up

Your cooling system’s failure to start could be the result of something simple that you can handle, or may be the sign of a major system problem that will require expert services.

  • If the display on the thermostat isn’t lit, the device isn’t receiving power and cannot signal for the air conditioner to cycle on at the right time. Try installing new batteries or look for a blown fuse or tripped breaker in your main electrical panel.
  • Alternatively the thermostat could be affected by an accumulation of dirt, dust, soot, cigarette smoke or cobwebs which can coat the electrical and mechanical components. Shut down the thermostat at the breaker so you can remove the thermostat’s cover to check for any particles that might be interfering with normal function. Any buildup will need to be carefully and thoroughly cleaned. Many systems, intelligent or smart thermostats in particular, might have very delicate or sensitive panels or circuits, so it is best to leave maintenance tasks to the professionals to prevent damage to the system. Your professional HVAC technician will have the right tools to perform delicate work.
  • It is not very likely that parts within the thermostat will come loose, but if that should happen, it could interfere with its ability to function effectively. Your HVAC technician will tighten any component that has come loose, or replace any corroded parts.

Thermostat Setting and Room Temperature Don’t Match

There are times when the temperature of the room may feel different than what the thermostat is reflecting. This can make it very difficult to find the right settings for comfortable indoor temperatures. In addition, this inefficient cycling can result in an increase in your energy bills.

  • Once you are sure the thermostat components are clean, verify that the thermostat is level on the wall by using a carpenter’s level just above or below it. Whether the thermostat is not straight because of poor installation or an accidental bump, or loose screws, a simple adjustment may be enough to correct the temperature inaccuracy. This is generally the case for older thermostats and those that are mercury-based.
  • The thermostat’s location could also be a possible factor. Your thermostat must be placed in an area where it does not receive direct sunlight, is not exposed to a heat source or cold drafts, or dust. These conditions will cause the thermostat to give incorrect readings. For example, if the thermostat is receiving direct sunlight, it will register this as the room temperature and cycle on for cooling. However other parts of the home might already be cool, and would not need any further cooling, resulting in energy being wasted. If your air conditioner is in an area where it is exposed to elements that affect its reading, it is a good idea to consider changing its location so it can accurately regulate the temperature and no longer waste energy.
  • An old thermostat is also likely to function inefficiently. An upgrade will improve comfort and also give you access to a variety of new features with many practical capabilities. Features such as remote access, vacation programming, and energy use tracking, are designed to make the systems more user-friendly and functional.

Frequent On and Off Cycling

Depending on the type of thermostat you own, it could be a matter of the thermostat’s settings. Some thermostats allow for cycle rates to be set for a certain number of cycles per hour. The heat anticipator regulates the cycling of the heater, shutting off the heat at a certain point. This is to prevent the rest of the house from reaching undesirable temperatures before the thermostat is able to reach the set temperature. If the anticipator is not properly calibrated, it could also affect the cycling periods. The anticipator can be ideally set to prevent your house from being too hot or too cold for long periods, and to prevent frequent on and off cycling.

When a thermostat needs to be cleaned or isn’t sitting level, it can malfunction and signal the air conditioner repeatedly as well. Similarly, any loose or worn connection will affect the thermostat’s ability to cycle effectively.

To prevent damage to your thermostat, it is best to contact a professional. Routine maintenance is one effective way to keep your thermostat in good condition.

Contact Air Specialty at (251) 545-3337 if you need to have your thermostat replaced or repaired. We have been providing service to the Mobile, Alabama area since 1993, and have developed the expertise and knowledge to provide solutions you can count on every time.

4 Summer Maintenance Tasks to Keep Energy Costs Low

4 Summer Maintenance Tasks to Keep Energy Costs Low

Semmes, Alabama summers can really put your air conditioner to work fighting the temperatures. If you are engaged in a battle between high energy bills and home cooling, there are maintenance tasks you can undertake that can help to lower your expenses and keep you comfortable.

Change Your Filter

Changing the filter in your air conditioner can lower your energy costs by as much as 15 percent. You should change or clean your filter once a month during the summer for the best results. How often you change your filter will depend on the kind you use. If you are not familiar with how to do this, ask your HVAC professional to show you how it’s done during the next maintenance visit.

Landscaping Around the Unit

Take extra care of the area around the outdoor unit. Bushes, leaves, and plants should be at least two feet away on all sides. Make sure to keep grass carefully trimmed in this area as well. If the landscaping around your unit is cluttered, it will have difficulty pulling in air and operating efficiently.

Setting Your Thermostat

Pay attention to your thermostat settings to ensure you are setting temperatures practically, and for efficiency according to the season. The U.S. Department of Energy recommends a setting of 78 degrees in summer when you need cooling. Turn the thermostat up during periods when you are away from home or when you are generally inactive, such as overnight.

Change the Direction of Ceiling Fans

Your ceiling fan can both heat and cool your home, but it needs to be rotating in the right direction. Make sure your ceiling fan is rotating counterclockwise in summer to produce a cooling wind chill effect. Aim to change the direction as part of your spring cleaning routine before the summer heat really kicks in. To learn more about how you can lower your energy costs, or explore the options for upgrading to a more efficient unit, contact us at Air Specialty by calling (251) 545-3337. Our technicians are fully trained and experienced to provide you with the right services for your home or business.
Programmable Thermostats and Creating Zones

Programmable Thermostats and Creating Zones

Just as every household runs on a different time schedule, each room in your home has its own heating and cooling requirements as well. Ensuring that the rooms everyone uses throughout the day are comfortable can be as challenging as trying to keep track of all of your family’s comings and goings. Luckily, you don’t need to possess superhero powers to find an economical solution. When used together, zoning and programmable thermostats are a dynamic duo that can rescue you from sky-high energy bills without sacrificing your home comfort.

Zoned for Home Comfort

Heating and cooling systems equipped with zoning capabilities allow you to alter the temperatures in various rooms in your home according to your household’s unique needs. Instead of conditioning every room at once, you can selectively heat or cool individual spaces for better comfort and lower energy bills. Zoning is the ideal solution for homes with inconsistent room temperatures. It’s perfect for all of those times when you don’t want or need to condition every room in your home too. Here’s how most central HVAC zoning systems work:
  • Thermostats in each individual zone are linked to sensors that continually monitor indoor and outdoor temperatures.
  • The thermostats are connected to a central control panel that analyzes incoming data and send signals to motorized dampers.
  • Air control dampers installed with the HVAC system’s ductwork open or close based on the temperature setting on each individual thermostat to allow just the right amount of air flow into every room.

Optimizing Money and Energy Savings with Programmable Thermostats

Programmable thermostats take the money-saving benefits of a zoned HVAC system to a higher level. These smart devices allow you to preset temperatures according to your schedule, automatically raising or lowering temperatures when no one is using the space. Most models allow you to program temperatures for multiple times of the day for optimal money and energy savings. The set-it-and-forget-it gadgets let everyone enjoy the highest degree of comfort 24/7 without ever having to adjust the thermostat. Here’s an example of a weekday schedule for a family with children:
  • 6:30 a.m. Temperatures in bedrooms are automatically adjusted to ensure that the family wakes up to a comfortable environment.
  • 7:00 a.m. Other zones are conditioned so the family can be comfortable while getting ready to leave home for the day.
  • 8:00 a.m. After the family departs, temperatures in all zones are lowered or raised 15 degrees for the next eight hours, resulting in a 15-percent reduction on heating and cooling bills.
  • 4:00 p.m. Living areas are warmed or cooled to ensure that everyone is comfortable as they return home.
  • 9:00 p.m. Temperatures in bedrooms are adjusted on cue as the children retire for the night. Living areas like a home office, den or family room are conditioned to allow adults to remain comfortable.
  • 11:00 p.m. As adults retire, temperatures in all zones are raised or lowered until the next morning.

Advanced Features and Functions

As the popularity of zoning increases, new HVAC systems are appearing on the market that come equipped with zoning and programmable functions. The best of these advanced systems are designed as whole-home solutions, with optional indoor air quality fixtures that control air filtration, ventilation and humidity levels. All of the devices are controlled by a user-friendly central panel that lets you manage the specific comfort requirements of your home. Some models are Wi-Fi enabled so you can access temperature and indoor air quality controls from your computer or smart devices. Additional features available can include:
  • Automatic changeovers between heating and cooling
  • Message reminders that let you know when it’s time to change the air filter or schedule preventive maintenance
  • Copy features that make it easy to replicate settings for different time periods, days or zones
  • Energy usage displays that allow you to monitor energy consumption in real time
  • PID controllers that “learn” your ideal temperatures and maintain them

Installation and Cost Considerations

Zoned HVAC systems are commonly installed as energy-efficient building features in new home construction and as energy-saving alternatives when replacing HVAC systems in existing homes. As alterations to ductwork are necessary, the cost of installation can be higher than in conventional central-air systems. When used in combination with programmable thermostats, however, the savings achieved on monthly energy bills can be as high as 40 percent. The zoning system experts at Air Specialty can evaluate your home and give you a complimentary installation estimate to help you determine getting into the zone with this dynamic duo is the right option for you.
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