If you are struggling to keep your home temperature comfortable and consistent, it can be frustrating. This may be accompanied by rising energy bills, and there may be no obvious cause for these problems. It’s natural to call your local HVAC specialist at this time to find the cause and fix the problem for you. But, the problem may be something much simpler, and it may be related to the position of your thermostat.
The Importance of the Thermostat
The thermostat should be regarded as the central brain of your entire HVAC system. This unit receives temperature data from a built-in sensor, and this is used to evaluate the need for more heating or cooling. The desired temperature that you’ve programmed into the thermostat will determine how much heating or cooling is required to meet your demands.
If the thermostat is not functioning properly, this will have a dramatic effect on the entire HVAC system. So, if you have a problem, it makes sense to check the thermostat first and some checks you can do yourself. First, make sure the thermostat has power, and if it’s a battery powered model change the batteries regularly. Next, if the behavior of the HVAC system is erratic there may be dust and debris on the sensor unit which can be cleaned with a vacuum or a can of compressed air. Finally, if the HVAC system feels too hot or cold, check that you’ve changed the thermostat and not left it on a setting for the previous season.
These are all easy maintenance and troubleshooting tasks that anyone can perform. But, if the problem persists, the thermostat may need replacing because it’s failing regularly. At this point, you can simply replace the thermostat with a similar model or upgrade to a smart or programmable thermostat. These have improved functionality, some units can be controlled remotely, and they can save you money on your utility bills.
Why is Thermostat Placement Important?
As we mentioned earlier, the thermostat contains a sensor that monitors the average home temperature where it’s located. This data can trigger a signal to the HVAC unit to bring the temperature into line with the settings on the thermostat. Because the thermostat senses the ambient temperature, the placement is extremely important. There are a number of external factors, such as cold drafts, sunlight, heating, and more, that can affect those thermostat readings.
When the thermostat is placed incorrectly, it can cause inaccurate temperature readings. This can make your HVAC system run erratically; it may work too much or not enough. This can lead to a few major problems, including poor performance, increased energy usage, and additional wear and tear on the heating and cooling equipment.
7 General Guidelines for Thermostat Placement
There are seven general placement guidelines that you can apply when you are considering a location for a thermostat:
1. Read the Installation Instructions
The installation instructions that should accompany your new thermostat will have some essential information on placement, safety, and other topics. To prevent inaccurate readings and short-cycling problems, it’s a good idea to read the instructions carefully.
2. Avoid Obvious Heat Sources
The thermostat should be kept away from obvious sources of heat, such as lamps, ovens, TVs, and other appliances. This includes windows that receive a lot of sunlight during the day, which will heat up the air around the thermostat.
3. Avoid Hot and Cold Spots
If you have noticeable hot and cold spots in your home, these are not an ideal location for the thermostat. To achieve optimal HVAC performance, the thermostat must be in a place where temperature extremes are not a factor. If you are struggling with hot and cold spots, speak to your local HVAC specialist and ask about a zoned HVAC system.
4. Keep the Thermostat Clear
It’s not a good idea to place furniture and other items under, around, or near the thermostat. These items can alter the airflow, and this can create inaccurate temperature readings.
5. Avoid Supply Ducts and Plumbing Pipes
The supply ducts carry treated air, and the plumbing pipes carry hot and cold water. They can affect the temperature of the air around them, even if they are located behind walls.
6. Wi-Fi Signals
If you have a smart thermostat or a control unit for a ductless system, you need to have a good Wi-Fi signal that delivers a consistent connection.
- Don’t Block the Sensor
Don’t install the thermostat in a hard to access location such as behind a door or other tall piece of furniture. This will be annoying when you need to access the unit, and it will affect the accuracy of the temperature readings.
What is the Optimal Position for a Thermostat?
Now that you have a better idea of where the thermostat should be placed, let’s get into some specifics to make the process easier. First, the thermostat should be positioned in a central location for easy access, and there should be natural air circulation. The thermostat should be located at a height of 52-60” to avoid low and high temperature readings. This is because cooler air sinks and hotter air rises. Let’s take a look at four ideal locations for a thermostat:
1. The Center of the Home
The central area will reflect the true ambient temperature to accurate thermostat operations. A midpoint location is ideal; this is also easy to access by anyone in the home.
2. An Interior Wall
When the thermostat is installed on an interior wall, it will not fluctuate like it would on an exterior wall. The last thing that you want is an HVAC system that’s controlled by ambient temperature readings that are affected by external weather conditions.
3. A Frequently Used Room
The room that your family uses most can be an ideal location for a thermostat. This room can be warmed or cooled to your exact needs with no inaccurate readings. But, if you choose this location, be wary of large windows that allow sunlight and/or cold drafts into the room.
4. The First Floor in Two-Story Buildings
As we mentioned earlier, hot air rises, so the second floor of a two-story home will feel warmer. So, if you install the thermostat upstairs, your HVAC system will detect that the entire home is warmer when it is not.
If you want to upgrade to the smart thermostat or you want to improve the energy efficiency of your HVAC system, contact your local heating and cooling specialist.