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What is a thermostat and how does one work?

In this guide, we’re going to take a look at what a thermostat is, the different types you can install in your home, and how they work.

Most UK homes with central heating will have a thermostat, usually on the landing or in a hallway. While it’s easy to set the temperature on your thermostat and forget all about it, getting to know more about this device, how it works, and the different options available can help you to save money on your energy bills and reduce your carbon footprint.

What is a thermostat?

A thermostat is a device that works to maintain a constant temperature in your home by measuring the ambient temperature and comparing it to the programmed settings. It will then switch the boiler on or off as required to reach the correct temperature.

Glow-worm controls and thermostats are specifically designed to operate with our boilers in the most efficient way – helping to meet Boiler Plus regulations.

Load compensation is the ability to modulate the flow temperate from the boiler based on the actual room temperature. Glow-worm controls’ and boilers both ‘speak the same language’ which ensures the most optimum performance from your appliance.

How does a thermostat work?

There are a few different types of thermostat available on the market. Each performs the same function of maintaining a constant temperature in your home but they operate in different ways.

Let’s look at the different types of thermostat in more detail. For the full range of Glow-worms thermostats and controls, click here.

Mechanical thermostats

Also known as analogue thermostats, this model tends to feature a dial with the temperature settings marked in degrees around the outside. They are easy to operate, as you simply need to turn the dial to the desired temperature.

The sensor of a mechanical thermostat contains a strip of two different metals joined together, which expand and contract at different rates when exposed to temperature changes. The expansion and contraction of this strip either opens or closes a circuit, which in turn switches the boiler on or off.

While they are very affordable and simple to operate, analogue thermostats are much less accurate than digital models, sometimes varying as much as five degrees from the set temperature.

Programmable thermostats

Programmable thermostats work in much the same way as their analogue counterparts, but they use electronic sensors, which are much more sensitive. This allows them to maintain the temperature of your home to within one degree of your chosen setting.

They are usually set using buttons to increase or decrease the temperature, and many offer a variety of extra features to create and select custom central heating programmes. This allows you to make sure the heating is only on at certain times of day to suit your schedule and minimise energy consumption.

While they are more expensive than analogue models, digital thermostats more than make up for it through the energy-saving opportunities afforded by their increased accuracy and customisable thermostats.

Discover Glow-worms traditional control range here.

Smart thermostats

A smart thermostat is similar to a digital thermostat in the way that it measures the ambient temperature and connects to your boiler. However, the key difference is that they are also able to integrate with other smart devices such as Amazon Alexa, Apple HomeKit and smartphone apps when paired with an internet gateway.

This gives you the convenience of being able to control your heating remotely if you are not at home, or by voice command. Some smart thermostats are also able to learn your preferences over time, adjusting the heating automatically based on the settings you’ve previously inputted for certain conditions. Glow-worms MiGo and MiGo Select will automatically learn your energy needs from the moment it's installed. Other smart controls such as the Climstat Select and MiSet have weather compensation capabilities when paired with the MiGo Link interent gateway. It'll know to give you your desired temperature without delay, so when you ask for 21 degrees you'll get 21 degrees.

Smart thermostats aren’t much more expensive than standard digital models, and they offer great energy-saving opportunities. However, the price will increase depending on whether you’re looking to create multiple zones within your home that you can program individually, or if you simply opt for a single thermostat that you can control from your phone.

Learn more about smart thermostats by discovering Glow-worm's range.


Which thermostat is right for you?

If you’re still not sure which type of thermostat is most suitable for your home, get in touch with us and we’ll be happy to help. Whether you’re looking to upgrade your mechanical thermostat to a digital model or upgrade your entire central heating to a modern smart system, our friendly advisors are on hand to discuss the different options with you.