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Heating systemEven though temperatures stay pleasant here in Texas for much of the year, many homeowners have to turn up the heat come December. Your thermostat is an essential part of your heating system, of course, allowing you to control temperatures and even save money on your energy bills. In the summertime, you can save 5-15% on cooling costs just by raising the temperature on your thermostat by 10 degrees Fahrenheit for at least eight hours of the day. In the same way, you can save a good chunk of money in wintertime by lowering your thermostat when you’re away at work or when your family is asleep.

But if your thermostat isn’t working correctly, your home may be uncomfortable for everyone inside (and you may not even know why!). A lot of homeowners assume that they need furnace repairs, but the problem could actually be with your thermostat itself. Should you have trouble with your home heating system this winter, you might want to refer to the common issues below and contact your HVAC system technician to discern whether the source of the issue might be your thermostat.

PROBLEM: What your thermostat says doesn’t match the temperature of the room

Under normal circumstances, your thermostat should provide an accurate reading of the intended temperature of a room and its actual reading. But if what the thermostat says seems wildly inaccurate, there could very well be an issue with the thermostat and its ability to communicate with your furnace. You can test your suspicions by taping a small thermometer right next to your thermostat on the wall (be sure to separate it from the wall with a paper towel) and waiting for 15 minutes or so to get an accurate reading. If you find there’s more than a degree of difference between the thermometer and your thermostat readings, you should call your technician to look at your thermostat and/or heating system.

PROBLEM: Your furnace won’t turn on or off

A home that’s too cold can be horrible in winter, but an overly hot home can make you just as uncomfortable — and both scenarios come with significant health risks. If your furnace won’t turn on or off, you might assume that your heating system needs extensive repairs or even replacement. But the problem could be due to the location of your thermostat or electrical wiring issues within the thermostat. As a general rule, your thermostat should be placed in an area that’s not directly in the sun so that the room temperature reading is accurate. Whether or not you know the cause, you should call your HVAC technician if your furnace won’t shut off or turn on.

PROBLEM: The thermostat itself won’t even turn on (or malfunctions)

If your thermostat screen won’t turn on or it won’t do anything when you try to adjust it, it’s pretty likely there’s a problem with the thermostat unit itself. But there could be several possible reasons for why it’s acting up. It could be dirty inside, for instance, or there could be some wiring issues impacting its performance. A blown fuse could even be the root cause. You can clean the inside of your thermostat yourself to see if that makes a difference, but if it doesn’t, you should contact your technician to assess the source of these thermostat problems.

Don’t get caught out in the cold this winter. If you experience any of these issues with your heating or you’re behind on regular maintenance, contact your local HVAC company straight away to ensure your system runs as smoothly as possible this season.