Monday, March 5, 2012

It's Getting Hot In Here

I'm a tightwad. I don't like spending all my money on intangible items so when it comes to heating the house, I keep it a bit on the chilly side. When my daughter was born, for her sake I raised the heat up so that she wouldn't get chilled but once she was able to fend for herself, i.e. cover herself with a blanket in the middle of the night, I dialed it back again. I'm not talking miserly but I do keep the thermostat set to around 68 degrees when we are here during the evenings and around 60 degrees while we are out during the weekdays and at night. It easy to stay comfortable by throwing on an old sweater and besides, it gets you in the spirit of winter. Your mind is thinking cold so you might as well get the body thinking the same thing. Plus, after a few days your body acclimates to the temperature.

So on Saturday as I was upstairs making the beds for my wife who was laid up with a sore back, I suddenly realized that I seemed really hot. Being well read and never having heard of male menopause, I figured it was just one of the joys of living in a split level home. The upstairs is always a warmer than the downstairs. However when I made it back downstairs a little while later, I noticed that the thermostat said 79 degrees! What the heck?

It wasn't calling for heat but the fan was still running in high gear. I made sure all the settings looked correct and just turned it off for awhile thinking that it must have just missed a signal or something. (As you can tell, I am good at procrastination when I want too.) A little while later when the temperature had subsided, I turned it on again and all seemed well. But a couple hours later I was again feel rather warm and once again the temperature was climbing towards 80 degrees. This time I knew something was up so I decided to do the next logical thing. Even though it didn't tell me the batteries were low, I decided to replace them anyway. I popped off the cover and removed the batteries but when I went to put in the fresh ones, the metal tab on the positive side of the batteries was looking like it was just hanging there. I probed it a bit with a screwdriver and it fell inside the case and disappeared. Not good.

I took the whole thing apart and saw that it had broken off of the circuit board and that there wasn't going to be anyway I was going to get it fixed. Evidently the last time I had replaced the batteries, it had broken or almost broken but had hung off long enough to mysteriously finish breaking on a Saturday many months later. Funny how things work like that.

Since it was almost noon and things like local shops (not large box stores selling cheap crap) sometimes close early when business is not hopping. If I didn't count the large box store, I figured I had only two places in town that might have a programmable thermostat and I wasn't entirely sure either of them were open after noon. So I hopped in the car and made tracks uptown and snuck in just under the wire. The good news was that they indeed have a programmable thermostat but the bad news was that it was almost identical to the one I had. It has some very minor differences but it was the same manufacturer and I wasn't sure I wanted to buy another one from the same place that might contain the same design flaw. But with limited options besides driving to a big box store in a neighboring town or ordering a quality one online and being without heat or living in a sauna for a week or more while I wait for it to be delivered, I opted to buy it. Within minutes upon getting home, it was installed and everything was back up and running. But I did notice that it still had the same design flaw the last one had so I was extra careful in how I put the batteries back in and took care to not put too much pressure on the battery contacts.

I feel bad about buying another programmable thermostat especially since the last one I bought was only seven years old and the non-programmable one that it replaced had probably been over 40 years old and still worked. Had I been thinking, I would have saved it for a spare but alas, I wasn't and I didn't. So now I have bought another cheap programmable thermostat which won't last for much more than seven years if the last one breaking wasn't a fluke. The plus side is that I don't expect to be in this house for seven years so it gives me time to research a better thermostat for when we move, if we can get our house sold. The downside is that it seems when it comes to electronics, there really isn't such a thing as quality made stuff anymore. It all comes from the same big factory over in China. My only hope is that a different manufacturer didn't use the same method for attaching the battery contacts to the circuit board.

9 comments:

warren said...

I don't like paying to keep the house warm either. I am not sure why. Maybe because it seems hopeless in our house. We need more insulation. Anyhow, as you say, there are not many options when it comes to electronics and it isn't likely to change any time soon.

Vince said...

Just as well you spotted it. There is nothing more uncomfortable than a house that's hot.

Sage said...

At first I thought Little A had learned how to turn up the heat! When I was a kid, we lived for a year in a rental house when we moved that had a heater in the floor and my sister who was four, put wet shoes on it and turned it up and the shoes were cooked!

malor said...

We keep our house cold too. 65 degrees daytime. 60 degrees nighttime. brrr. I got used to it...

At least you know how to change thermostat...My husband would not know. We hired a handy man to do it.

Ed said...

Warren - I was especially thinking of Foxconn and the entire cellphone industry when I wrote that comment. Our house has a ton of insulation and still cools off very quickly in my opinion.

Vince - Houses aren't for sweating, they are for relaxing!

Sage - She has already learned how to turn on the television and DVD player and use them, she has mastered my iphone and her mom's ipad and to some extent our desktop computer. But she hasn't yet learned to use the thermostat and that is probably only because it is out of reach without her step stool.

Malor - I'm nowhere near an electrician either but they have pretty good wiring instruction in the packaging. As added insurance, I usually take a 'before' picture of the wiring before I undo it to replace it with the new device. Using that strategy, I've been able to mostly get buy without hiring someone.

R. Sherman said...

I wouldn't mind having my house cooler, i.e. 68 degrees, but my wife would kill me. Thus, we keep it at 72.

Cheers.

R Johnson said...

This being Georgia, I keep the house at 72 in the summer and 68 (or thereabouts, depending who is near the thermostat) in the winter. My thermostat is just a thermostat. I don't think it would know what to do with a battery.

R Johnson said...

This being Georgia, I keep the house at 72 in the summer and 68 (or thereabouts, depending who is near the thermostat) in the winter. My thermostat is just a thermostat. I don't think it would know what to do with a battery.

Ed said...

3 Score - A programmable thermostat is probably only worth the money if you aren't retired and thus spend a large part of your day away from home and don't need it to maintain that same temperature while you are gone.