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These are temperature sensors, and locations for thermostats vary by house. They should be placed in a room with a radiator, but on the opposite side of the room to where the radiator is, so the sensor can provide an average temperature. Thermostats should not be placed in rooms without radiators, as they take longer to warm up. They should also not be placed near doors or in corridors. The boiler continues heating until the pre-set temperature on the thermostat is reached, after which, the boiler will switch off until the temperature falls below the threshold.
Digital thermostats can be programmed to turn the heating on during certain times of the day. Radiators have their own thermostats at the water entry point that are capable of stopping the water flow once a certain temperature is reached. However, the temperature is usually referred to by a number, such as from 1 to 5, that reflects the intensity of the heat that the radiator can radiate into the room.