Category Archives: Technology

5 Things to Know About Smart Thermostats

The United States Environmental Protection Agency reported that smart thermostats could save the average American as much as 20 percent in energy costs. It then began testing the products on the market and awarding them with Energy Star certification when applicable. Still, smart thermostats are relatively new tech, and there are five things that you should know about them before choosing the right product for you.

1. The physical installation is usually the same.

Installing a thermostat is simple. It’s the DIY job just about anyone can do, and that hasn’t changed with smart thermostats. Smart thermostats do generally require some extra steps, such as connecting to your local home network or pairing with your smartphone. Anyone who has connected his or her phone to local Wi-Fi should have little problem with this aspect of the setup.

2. There is difference between programmable and learning.

Even a basic smart thermostat can be programmed. You can often have a profile for each season as well as different times of the day. A programmable thermostat can turn the AC down after you fall asleep and while you’re away at work. Thermostats that learn initially have to be programmed, but they can collect data and automatically refine your programming for optimal energy usage.

3. Some models support automation too.

Automation can be more precise than both programming and learning in certain scenarios. Some thermostats can pair with your phone and employ geofencing. While you’re away, it will adjust the temperature accordingly, and it does the same when you return.

4. The specifics of your HVAC system matters.

Not all models are appropriate to all HVAC configurations. Many base models do not, for instance, support multi-stage heat pumps. You often need to step up to a more sophisticated model. If your heating and cooling is separate, you may need two units or a model that can account for that. Likewise, if you have a multi-zone system, then you need a thermostat that supports multiple zones.

5. You do not have to pair brands.

Many of the leading heating and cooling manufacturers now make their own smart thermostats. Local HVAC companies will often try to sell you on these branded models for a new installation. It’s not necessarily a bad option, but just note that it isn’t a requirement.

The least expensive smart thermostats on the market are now at about the same price that traditional thermostats were. In fact, those old-style thermostats are slowly but surely being phased out. Be mindful that you don’t have to spend a lot to save, and while the high-end models have many great features, a basic model may be enough for you and your home.