The Heart of Nashua with Joan Stylianos: I have to stop messing with the thermostat

About 36 hours before the ball dropped at New York City’s Times Square, one of my gas boiler’s nearby circulating pumps decided to close out 2017 early and deprive me of heat on the first level (major freak-out). I have two thermostats, one upstairs and one downstairs. And yes, I fidget with them all the time, adjusting them up, down, trying to stop my ever-rising gas bill from skyrocketing.

I insisted that my thermostat was busted; it was not. Actually, it’s a programmable version. You know — the complicated kind that I can never figure out. I hate these programmable gadgets and am embarrassed that I have no patience or the understanding to push a thousand buttons to set a mode.

For example, “Press NEXT> the display will show DAY. Repeat setting temp and time. Select the remaining TIME SLOT’s, EVEN and NITE. Program their temp and time info. Repeat the above procedures for each day of the week.”

Oh, brother.

You’ve got to admit, it’s been a wicked winter thus far. The extreme seesaw temperatures, mini blizzards, frozen tundra-like conditions and January’s spring-like rains are all starting to take their toll on our landscape and residents.

When it’s really frigid, what I do at home is continuously set my own temperatures on hold and override the programmed numbers that were left by the previous owners of my house. Then, I follow Energy Star’s advice: “For every 1 degree Fahrenheit you turn your thermostat down, you will use 1 percent less energy. That means if you reduce your heating by 10 degrees at night, you will use 10 percent less energy.”

When the outside temperatures are plummeting, I have been reminded that you shouldn’t be messing with the thermostat. Everyone keeps telling me they’re going to tie my hands up.

The more bitter it gets outside, the longer it’s going to take for the system to heat up because more of the furnace capacity is devoted to offsetting heat loss, said, one expert.

I long for the days when radiators were the common way most homes were heated. I grew up in an old colonial with the familiar loud banging that occurs from every room when the steam heat would kick on from the old cast-iron system. Sounded like someone hitting the pipes with a hammer; I really miss that annoyance. But radiator heat was so cozy; hot water baseboard can’t compete.

I and my bad attitude are looking forward to spring.

Ms. Stylianos is a Nashua native. Her column is published weekly. She can be reached at