You may have heard about this new technology on the radio or read about it on the Internet. There’s lots of buzz around intelligent items technology – smart phones, smart TVs, smart appliances, smart glasses and more. Which of these items you can actually buy and what is still on the drawing board can be very confusing.
Smart thermostats, though, have arrived and people are embracing their use, so let’s take a look at what they do, their benefits and what to look for when buying one.
What Does a Smart Thermostat Do?
Before this innovation we had regular and programmable thermostats. With regular ones, you manually changed the temperature to make the room feel more comfortable. Programmable thermostats let you set the temperature based on the time of day. Now the smart version has a variety of functions; it learns from your actions, shows you how much energy you’re using before you get the bill and can self-adjust with the advent of special conditions like excess humidity.
Smart thermostats with extra bells and whistles automatically change their set times when Daylight Savings starts or ends the way computers do. Fancier models also reset after a power outage or when batteries die and new ones installed.
Brands like The Nest only require installation and no programming. You do what you always do. It’s auto-scheduling feature turns down the heat when you’re away from home and keeps the room warmer when occupied. The Ecobee3 senses if you’re home and changes the temperature accordingly. The Honeywell Lyric considers relative humidity in the room ensuring that 70 degrees actually feels like 70 degrees.
Benefits of Smart Thermostats
Saving energy makes good sense all around. In this case you can personally lower your heating and cooling costs. Nationally, it helps businesses and the government save money and creates jobs. Globally, it conserves natural resources.
1. If you go on a trip and leave your heat on, you can turn it off from your tablet or sometimes, your smart phone, wherever you are.
2. Your energy use displays in real time.
3. If the day turns very cold, you can heat up your house right before you come home from work.
4. Baking for the holidays; the thermostat adjusts the room temperature considering the heat of the oven.
5. Smart thermostats tell you how long it takes to accommodate a request you’ve made.
6. Some models you can install yourself making them pay off quicker in energy savings.
Tips on Buying and Installing Smart Thermostats
These innovations come in two types: ones that notice your behaviors and ones that offer remote management and programming.
1. The Nest Thermostat falls in both categories. This model lights up when you come into the room. Turn down the heat on your way to bed and Nest starts creating a diary of your actions. Eventually, when it has your behaviors down, you’ll wake up to a warm house.
2. The Ecobee 3 knows when to turn your heat up and down based on your home’s energy use and the weather outside. It lets you control the temperature anytime, anywhere from a smart phone, tablet or computer. The Ecobee 3 comes with a 3.5″ full color LCD touchscreen.
3. Honeywell Lyric lets you create shortcuts for recurring events, control from anywhere with a smart device and automatically controls temperature when you’re away.
Costs run from $200 to $500. Installation for many models is easy for a homeowner to do as long as you follow the accompanying directions. YouTube also offers some tutorials. If you’re hesitant, call a professional to make sure the installation is done correctly.
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