You might have noticed your natural gas bill being close to double what it was last year. That’s because of a jump in U.S. gas exports in response to increased demand from European countries that relied on natural gas from Russia. Of course, Russia invaded Ukraine this time last year, and the average price of wholesale gas in December was 47 percent higher than it was in December of 2021. As a result, we’re all finding new and novel ways to lower our natural gas bills, including devices with switches for keeping us warm in winter.
I purchased an electric blanket recently and have managed to lower my thermostat to 60° Fahrenheit overnight. Not only does this lower my natural gas usage, but it also results in better sleep. The house is much quieter without the furnace running, so I fall asleep faster and end up sleeping longer. I even bring the blanket out to the living room during the day and plug it in so I can lower the thermostat and use my solar array to power the blanket.
Most electric blankets have a similarly configured, corded remote with an on/off button and another switch for setting the level of heat desired. Those switches also feature considerable tactile feedback so the user knows they’ve actuated the switch. E-switch offers a plethora of tactile switches suitable for these applications. One such switch is the TL3304 Series long life tactile switch.
The TL3304 Series has a life expectancy of 100,000 cycles and offers multiple actuator height, actuation force, and termination options for surface mount applications like these. These tact switches also come in tape and reel packaging for automated soldering processes.
Of course, an electric blanket alone won’t allow you abandon natural gas-forced heat entirely, but an electric heater can help. If you have a solar array like me, you can avoid the increasing prices for electricity as well. Residential electricity prices rose almost 10 percent in 2022 and are expected to increase another three percent in 2023, to $0.156 cents per Kilowatt-hour.
Many electric heaters still utilize rotary switches like the KC Series from E-Switch for selecting the heating level. The KC Series rotary switch comes with up to 12 positions or without stops altogether. Standard and metric bushing options and flat, round, or slotted actuators are available, as are PC pin or solder lug terminals. Actuator lengths range from zero millimeters for the slotted actuator to 38 millimeters for the flat actuator.
We can’t stay indoors all winter, however, but we now have more heated wearable options than ever. Heated wearable technology has evolved immensely and grown more popular, especially in areas where winters are especially cold, like our home in Minnesota. I’ve also noticed through my work as a public address announcer for amateur hockey that more hockey coaches are wearing heated jackets.
These heated wearables typically feature a control panel that’s sewn into the exterior fabric. This control panel features one or two switches for controlling which areas of the garment are heated, and at what level they’re heated. These switches are often micro-miniature, surface mount switches like the TL3701 Series from E-Switch.
The TL3701 Series measures 3mm by 2.6mm by 0.65mm and has a long life expectancy of up to 100,000 cycles, so it’ll last as long or longer than the garment will. Most importantly, these tact switches operate in temperatures ranging from -40 to 85°C, making them ideal for cold climates.
The Groundhog, Punxsutawney Phil, might have predicted six more weeks of winter, but we have the switches for keeping us warm in winter. Check out the E-Switch product catalog to find the right switch for whatever heating application you’re designing.