When the first programmable thermostats became affordable a couple of decades ago, some homeowners took the plunge and made significant energy savings. Using a programmable thermostat was different; it took some time to adjust, but ultimately it offered unparalleled control at the time. But, these types of thermostats have their own set of limitations; if a person returned home unexpectedly, they had to manually override the settings. This could negate any energy savings made because it’s not an efficient way to heat or cool a home. With the arrival of the smartphone, better WiFi technology, and intuitive apps, HVAC engineers found a new way to control a thermostat. In this article, we will take a deeper look at smart thermostats so that you can make an informed decision.
What is a Smart Thermostat?
This is a thermostat that you can program and control remotely via a dedicated app on your favorite mobile device or a computer. The controls are intuitive, the learning curve is flatter than a programmable unit, and you can make changes in real time. So, if you need to return home earlier than usual, the home can be preparing for your arrival as you’re traveling to your destination. The other great thing about a smart thermostat is the deeper access to performance data on your HVAC system. Users can examine the energy efficiency, tailor the system to occupancy patterns, and even get reminders on necessary maintenance.
Save Energy on Heating and Cooling
Smart thermometers are easy to use and intuitive, but after a short time, they start to learn your preferences and occupancy needs for finer control. The smart thermometer can even make changes automatically if you have people staying with you, and your thermal profile has been altered. If you’re supplied with energy from a provider that uses smart technology, you can track your energy usage from anywhere on an hourly basis. So, you can easily track the relationship between the current external temperatures and the amount of energy your HVAC system is using.
Access to this highly detailed data will show the user when their HVAC system is running the most. Those time periods may be times when the home is unoccupied, and this is a waste of energy. Thanks to the smart thermometer app, you can alter the indoor temperatures in real time to save money on your energy bills. But, this is also good for your HVAC system because it reduces the workload significantly. If your HVAC system is under less strain, it’s less likely to break down, and the useful lifespan of the equipment will be longer.
Many utility companies now offer an attractive incentive for users that make an upgrade to a smart thermostat in their homes. This could include a “Time of Use” (TOU) plan that can save a significant amount of money on energy bills. An energy provider bases their pricing on peak and non peak times, and a TOU plan encourages users to use non peak times for certain tasks such as using the dishwasher at night. When the demand for power is higher during the day, you can pay more for your energy, so making a switch to a TOU plan and using as smart thermometer could save a lot of money over the year.
Smart Home System Integration
Many smart thermometers are compatible with smart devices such as the Amazon Echo. So, you could ask Alexa to alter the temperatures from any location in your home, and the smart thermometer will respond accordingly. This kind of home hub system will also allow the user to coordinate other useful features, such as changing the temperature at the same time as a garage door is opened. This works very well in an insulated home because you retain much of the treated air indoors without compromising on functionality.
Improving Indoor Comfort Levels
Many smart thermostats have remote sensors that you position in each room in your home. These are typically linked to a single thermostat control surface located in the hallway, or you may have multiple units on each floor in a larger home. The conditions in the hall are not usually what you want in other rooms so you can set the temperatures from there on simpy use and app or smart hub. If you have an HVAC system that uses zones, you have even more control, but it’s important to remember that increasing comfort in every room at once will drive up the energy costs.
Flattening the Learning Curve
Like any piece of new technology, it takes a little time to learn how to get the most out fo your new smart thermostat. But, these devices are very intuitive, the programming is simple, and the sensors will detect when someone comes home. This allows the system to make quick changes as required once the smart thermostat has learned your regular routine. Remember that you can always override the smart thermometer remotely in real time, and this gives you complete control. Some smart thermostats may have password protections, so only certain users can access those temperature changes.
Smart Thermostat Compatibility
Certain brands of HVAC systems are only compatible with select smart thermostat systems. So, you may have to do a little homework to find out which system is right for your home. The main drawback, in many cases, is the thermostat wiring and cross compatibility issues with older heating and cooling systems. If you attempt to install a smart thermostat that’s not compatible, it can damage the HVAC control board. Many manufacturers are now building their own smart thermostats that are designed for their HVAC system products. This takes a great deal of guesswork out of the equation if you’re upgrading or installing a new HVAC system in your home.
If you’re interested in a smart thermostat for your home, consult a local certified HVAC specialist. They can help you to choose the right thermostat for your home and install it for you for extra peace of mind.