Flipping the Switch

Do you turn off your thermostat or burner?

As we head into the warmer part of the year many people turn off their heating by setting the thermostat to the lowest level, meaning you set your thermostat to 50 degrees as the temperature shouldn't ever reach that until the fall. Smart thermostats like the Nest or Honeywell Lyric allow you to turn off the heat, regardless of the temperature your heat will not turn on. These thermostats do have a fail-safe in case the temperature of your home dips dangerously low. There is another way to turn off your home without messing around with your thermostat, flip the off switch. Your heating has an emergency off switch that can usually be found at the top of the stairs heading down to the basement and on the heating system itself. This cuts all the electricity to your heating system and it will not run at all as long as this switch is in the off position. While it will ensure you don't use any energy during the warmer months, this might not be the best option for your home’s heating configuration.

There are few situations where you don't want to turn off the heating season via the emergency switch; when you indirect water heat, central ac through a furnace, and to a lesser point when you have smart thermostats. Let’s go over the indirect water heat first. Indirect water heat is when your water is heated by your heating system and stored in a water tank. This relies on your heating system being able to run during the summer whenever the water isn't hot enough. Indirect water heat works almost for free during the winter months as your heating system is running regularly, therefore keep the water heated. By turning off your heating system you prevent your heating system from keeping warm during the summer. You may have even noticed your heating system kicking on after a shower, running the dishwasher, or doing the laundry. If you have a direct water heater you can turn off the main heating system as a direct water heater has its own burner and will produce hot water on its own.

If your home has central air conditioning through a furnace you should not turn it off through the summer as the furnace will need the power to circulate the cool air through your home. Lastly, if you have a smart thermostat in your home like a Nest or Honeywell that runs off of the power from your heating system, it won't work if flip the main switch off. This isn't going to do anything negative it just means if you use it to view the temperature in the room or for a clock you won't be able to anymore.