The One With The Digital Thermostat

Brooke here.  This is the one when the heat went out.

Oh, 82 degrees. That's back when my toes worked.

The new house came with a digital thermostat, which seems nice, but wasn’t.  Seems as though a device that’s designed to save you a few dollars a month shouldn’t end up costing you a hundred bucks out-of-pocket, but maybe that’s just me.  Anyhow, this is a parable with a moral, friends, so learn from my example and be sure to warn your loved ones.

A few weeks ago, I woke up with Brown on top of me.  Not in a sexy way, mind you, but in the way that the Eskimos kept large dogs specifically for the purposes of surviving the winter.  I’m not sure who nudged their way over or under who, but after he got up and left for work the bed got colder… and colder… and colder…

I’ll readily admit that I have no tolerance for winter so I though the problem was my body wussing out during the first below-freezing days of the year.  I grumbled and tossed the blankets around and tried to get back to sleep.  After fifteen minutes of this nonsense, I got up and poked the dogs awake.  Odd, I thought, not yet realizing the mild hypothermia had wormed its fingers through the cracks, they’re usually the ones who wake me up.

Two listless dogs made for an uneventful morning walk, and I got back to the house and jumped in a hot (bliss!) shower. I got out (argh!) and walked into my office to see the dogs staring icy daggers at me.  “Fine,” I said.  “FINE. It’s your fault if the gas bill goes up this month.”

(See, if I blame it on the dogs I can rationalize turning up the heat past 68 degrees.  One’s old and the other’s a baby!  It’s cruel to let them suffer!  Really!)

I went to the thermostat, which seemed to be set at 55 degrees.  Which was… not correct.  I jiggled the bits and made sure the settings were right, and watched the thermostat fall to 54.

And then I was aware there was a Problem.

Brown and I did a flurry of messaging, and I checked the stove and called the gas company.  Nope, the Problem was most likely the massive 20-year-old furnace in the basement.  I went downstairs, did a full furnace reboot, and nothing happened.

Fine.  Whatever.  There are people who handle these types of Problems.  I called a local company we’ve used before, they made me aware there would be a minimum fee for emergency service, and they sent a guy out within the half-hour.  He sat in front of the furnace with a digital thing and measured various stuff, then asked if the thermostat was working.

Of course it was, I said, that’s the first thing I checked.

Imagine it in the lower right corner of the screen and a quarter of the size of your thumbnail.

He went upstairs and jiggled the same bits I had jiggled before, then said, “Here’s your problem.”

“What?” I asked.  “Is it broken?”

“No,” he said.  “Here’s your problem,” and pointed at a tiny indicator symbol on the thermostat.  “The batteries are dead.”

“No, what?  Dead?  No.” I said.  “Look, the thermostat is on.  They can’t be dead.”

“Nope, they’re dead.” He opened the battery slot and removed them.  “There’s enough charge to power the thermostat but not tell the furnace to turn on.”

I thought it was a good time to mention that this was an excellent example of horseshit design.  He concurred, then asked me if I had any replacement batteries since he didn’t keep any in that size.  I did, and I stuck them in the thermostat, and we had heat.

And then he charged me the emergency service fee of $97.65.

Tell your friends and neighbors.

One thought on “The One With The Digital Thermostat

  1. Having been warned by the man who installed my thermostat that this might happen I, at his advice, changfe the batteries in my thermostat every year at Christmas. I do feel with you however….

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