September 16, 2014

Recall: White-Rodgers Home Heating and Cooling Thermostats Due to Fire Hazard

Name of Product: Programmable thermostats

Units: About 180,000 in the United States and 8,300 in Canada

Manufacturer: White-Rodgers of St. Louis, Mo.

Hazard: The programmable thermostats constantly charge the backup AA batteries used to power the thermostat’s clock. This can cause the batteries to leak, resulting in a fire hazard.

Incidents/Injuries: The firm is aware of three incidents involving minor property damage. No injuries have been reported.

Description: This recall involves all White-Rodgers programmable thermostats with model numbers 1F88-XXX and 1F85RF-275 and date codes beginning with 05, 06, 07, 08, 09 and 1001 through 1039. The model number is printed on the thermostat’s front pull-down panel door. The date code is located inside the removable front cover. White-Rodgers and/or the utility company’s name and logo are printed on the front of the thermostat. These thermostats were able to be controlled by power companies in homes that took part in energy demand reduction programs.

Distributed by: More than 40 utility companies to consumers nationwide who took part in energy conservation programs and by various HVAC wholesalers for about $150.

Manufactured in: China

Remedy: Consumers should immediately remove the two AA batteries from the thermostat and contact White-Rodgers for a free repair kit. If battery removal causes changes in furnace operation, contact White-Rodgers.

Consumer Contact:
For additional information, contact White-Rodgers toll-free at (888) 624-1901 between 7 a.m. and 6 p.m. CT Monday through Friday or visit the firm’s website at www.regcen.com/Thermostat

Note: Health Canada’s press release is available at http://cpsr-rspc.hc-sc.gc.ca/PR-RP/recall-retrait-eng.jsp?re_id=1217

CPSC is still interested in receiving incident or injury reports that are either directly related to this product recall or involve a different hazard with the same product. Please tell us about it by visiting https://www.cpsc.gov/cgibin/incident.aspx

GE’s Plans to Help You Manage Your Energy Use

GE Appliances & Lighting created the Home Energy Management (HEM) business, intending to be the first major appliance company to provide a whole-home solution for energy management.

When synchronized with the local utility company’s home smart-meter, coming into popular use, the HEM acts as the “central nervous system” for monitoring resource usage and controlling energy consumption within the home. The HEM, with the ability to collect data on multiple appliances, provides both real-time and long-term trend information on power and resource consumption and solar generation to the homeowners.

GE’s new Home Energy Manager (HEM) monitors all networked appliances which can include the refrigerator, range, dishwasher, washer and dryer, water heater, and will track all other home energy consumption including microwaves and televisions.

One of the primary goals of U.S. smart grid initiatives is to better use the energy production capacity the country already has. Home energy consumption efficiency can increase significantly when homeowners the option to participate in time-of-use pricing programs, which reward homeowners for lowering their consumption during periods of peak energy demand (usually 2-7 PM).

Simply providing consumers with energy consumption information motivates energy savings. A U.S. Department of Energy study showed that providing real-time pricing information to consumers via a smart meter helped reduce electricity costs 10% on average and 15% during peak periods.

“Knowing what is consuming electricity, and how much electricity that appliances are consuming, can be very empowering,” states Dave McCalpin, general manager of the new HEM business. “People will be able to make smarter choices if they have information. The once-a-month electrical bill provides no insight into your usage habits. We intend to change that.”

HEM’s design is targeted to include:

* Demand Response Integration, supporting communication standards Zigbee SEP 1.0, to enable demand response communication between a utility’s home smart meter and appliances on the home network, enabling real-time load shedding of networked appliances;
* Five-Day Weather Forecasts on Internet-enabled installations (communications supporting Ethernet, Wifi, and Zigbee SEP 1.0 standards);
* Electricity Usage Data Monitoring for the whole home for both short and long terms;
* Power Sub Metering for each GE demand response-enabled appliance;
* Solar Generation Monitoring of inverter output, including short- and long-term data where available;
* Water Usage Monitoring via household-wide data monitoring at 1-gallon resolution;
* Smart Thermostat Interface with full-featured seven-day programmable communicating thermostats that accepts demand response temperature offsets.

Everything You Need to Know About Programmable Thermostats

Who better to tell us all we need to know about programmable thermostats than the government’s Energy Star, part of the Department of Energy.

Programmable thermostats automatically adjust your home’s temperature settings, allowing you to save energy while you’re away or sleeping.

They:

  • are more convenient and accurate than manual thermostats and improve your home’s comfort
  • contain no mercury
  • save energy and save money on utility bills — when used properly, about $150/year
  • are better for the environment, since using less energy helps reduce greenhouse gas emissions associated with energy production

Programmable thermostats earn the ENERGY STAR by meeting strict energy efficiency guidelines set by the government. These units save energy by offering 4 convenient, pre-programmed temperature settings — settings that try to anticipate when it’s convenient for you to scale back on heating or cooling.

If you are like many homeowners and work outside the home during the day and have a different schedule on the weekend, a programmable thermostat can offer many benefits, and the return on your investment is usually within 1 year.

On the other hand, if you are home throughout the day, seven days a week, then a programmable thermostat will offer more limited benefits.

Through proper use of a programmable thermostat (using the 4 pre-programmed settings) you can save about $150* every year in energy costs.

Rules of Thumb for Proper Use:

  1. Keep the temperature set at its energy savings set-points for long periods of time (at least eight hours), for example, during the day, when no one is at home, and through the night, after bedtime.
  2. All thermostats let you temporarily make an area warmer or cooler, without erasing the pre-set programming. This override is cancelled automatically at the next program period. You use more energy (and end up paying more on energy bills) if you consistently “hold” or over-ride the pre-programmed settings.
  3. Units typically have 2 types of hold features: (a) hold/permanent/vacation; (b) temporary. Avoid using the hold/permanent/vacation feature to manage day to day temperature settings. “Hold” or “vacation” features are best when you’re planning be away for an extended period. Set this feature at a constant, efficient temperature (i.e. several degrees warmer temperature in summer, several degrees cooler during winter), when going away for the weekend or on vacation. You’ll waste energy and money if you leave the “hold” feature at the comfort setting while you’re away.
  4. Cranking your unit up to 90 degrees or down to 40 degrees, for example, will not heat or cool your house any faster. Most thermostats, including ENERGY STAR qualified units, begin to heat or cool at a programmed time, to reach set-point temperatures sometime thereafter. Units with adaptive, “smart,” or “intelligent” recovery features are an exception to this rule — they reach desired temperatures by the set time, since they use formulas that are based on your historical use.
  5. Install your unit on an interior wall, away from heating or cooling vents and other sources of heat or drafts (doorways, windows, skylights, direct sunlight or bright lamps).
  6. Many homes use just one thermostat to control the whole house. If your home has multiple heating or cooling zones, you’ll need a programmed setback thermostat for each zone to maximize comfort, convenience and energy savings throughout the house.
  7. Don’t forget to change the batteries each year. Some units indicate when batteries must be changed.

Features

ENERGY STAR qualifies these types of units:

7-day models are best if your daily schedule tends to change, say, if children are at home earlier on some days. They give you the most flexibility, and let you set different programs for different days – usually with four possible temperature periods per day.

5+2-day models use the same schedule every weekday, and another for weekends.

5-1-1 models are best if you tend to keep one schedule Monday through Friday, and another schedule on Saturdays and Sundays.

All ENERGY STAR qualified programmable thermostats include:

  • Four default program periods per day, allowing you to save money while you’re away or sleeping
  • +/- 2 degree accuracy to keep the temperature at an even level, keeping you comfortable

ENERGY STAR qualified programmable thermostats typically come with:

  • Digital, backlit displays
  • Touch pad screen programming
  • Voice and/or phone programming
  • Hold/Vacation features
  • Indicators which tell you when its time to change air filters
  • Indicators that signal malfunctioning of heating/cooling systems
  • Adaptive Recovery/ Smart Recovery features – control features that senses the amount of time it will take to reach the next set-point temperature, and reach desired temperatures by the set time

Installation

Programmable thermostats are a low voltage wiring installation (however, you should shut down your electricity during the replacement), and involve anywhere from 2–10 wires, depending on your type of heating and cooling system. The previous attachment points will reconnect your new unit. Read all instructions and proceed carefully.

If the job requires more than just a replacement, call your certified HVAC professional to ensure proper installation, as well as operation of your heating and cooling system. It’s a good idea to upgrade an old manual thermostat to a programmable unit, if you’re replacing a CAC or heating system given that programmable units are far more accurate and will maximize the efficiency of your new system For heat pumps, you may need a special unit to maximize energy savings year-round. Talk to your retailer or HVAC contractor before selecting the unit.

Also, if you’re replacing a conventional thermostat that has a mercury switch, be careful not to break the tube that holds this toxic substance. Contact your local recycling/hazardous materials center, or the manufacturer of your new thermostat, for advice on proper disposal.