General HVAC

Everything You Need To Know About Smart Thermostats

By September 11, 2017 No Comments

Everything You Need To Know About Smart Thermostats

Homeowners who installed programmable thermostats realized energy savings when they hit the market some 20 years ago. To match their occupancy patterns, their only effort was to program the thermostat. Anyone coming home unexpectedly had to override the thermostat, which could wipe out energy savings if entered incorrectly.

As Wi-Fi apps increased in number, heating and air conditioning engineers found that they could combine the best that programmable thermostats offered with the intuitive intelligence of smart technology. Since this time, smart thermostats have given homeowners the same, or even more, energy savings without the uncertainty of saving energy while still staying comfortable.

  • Now, through the growth of technology, you have full control of your home’s HVAC system from anywhere you can get a signal using the technology embedded in these smart thermostats. You have complete control of your home’s comfort system while also saving on energy costs. Choosing the right thermostat and app  will give you a more detailed understanding of your system’s performance as well. This will help you realize sooner if there is an issue that may need repair before it becomes a bigger problem.

Energy Savings

Different from the skills or experience required when setting and using programmable thermostats, smart devices essentially teach themselves and remember your setting preferences. The smart thermostat will only need a few days to learn those preferences and your occupancy patterns once they have been placed. The sensor technology of the thermostat can change the settings or temperatures for you in the event of unexpected occupancy.

You will be able to track your energy usage on an hourly basis from anywhere if your electric provider uses smart technology. You will also be able to see the correlation between outdoor temperatures and your HVAC system’s energy usage.

Using the data you obtain through the app, you will be able to see when you HVAC system runs the most throughout the day. You can easily change the temperatures based on the time periods that the system is running when the home is unoccupied from anywhere to save on energy and money. Reducing the amount of time your HVAC system is working also reduces the wear and tear, which lowers the cost of repairs and increases its life expectancy.

Also, in an effort to upgrade you to a smart thermostat, your utility may also offer some incentives.  Representatives of your utility company can also help you find a time-of-use plan (TOU) that will likely save money on your electric bill. Pricing of electric providers is generally based on the peak and nonpeak hours of usage throughout an average day. These plans encourage users to use more energy during off-peak hours when the utility company pays less for it. You pay considerably more for each kilowatt you use when demand is high. TOU plans will often lower your monthly energy bill because you won’t be paying for those hours you do not use your HVAC system as much.

Overall, while the upgrade may be slightly higher in price up front, the convenience and reliability of the thermostat for your HVAC system will be worth it and save you money on energy costs throughout its lifetime.

Integration With Smart Home Systems

Smart Homes Systems are becoming much more common in households and some smart thermostats are compatible with these devices such as Amazon’s Echo. You can ask Alexa to change the temperature from anywhere in your home, whether it’s in the kitchen as you cook, or from the bedroom on a cold night with the help of the smart thermostat.

Opening your garage door or exterior doors and changing the temperature accordingly is one feature of these thermostats that work with smart home hubs. Because it will take less time to heat or cool, this feature works best in a well-insulated and leak-free home.

Improved Comfort

While most homes typically have one thermostat placed in the hallway, many smart thermostat models offer remote sensors which can be placed in all of the rooms.  The reason for this is because the temperatures throughout your home will vary considerably based on their thermal loads versus those conditions in the hallway.

When you put a remote sensor in a room and it’s uncomfortable to you, you can set the thermostat to cool or heat the air to the temperature you want. With a remote sensor in an individual room and you are uncomfortable with the temperature of the air there, you have the ability to heat or cool that room to the temperature you want.  This ability is likely to raise your energy costs, but it will increase your comfort and give you more control over the thermal conditions in that particular room. If you have a zoned HVAC system in your home, the costs are less likely to rise.

Learning Curves With Smart Thermostats

Smart devices learn your habits within a few days time, which eliminates the need to program your thermostat based on home occupancy patterns. The Nest, for example, was the first smart thermostat on the market and uses a sensor that detects when your home is occupied and when it’s empty. Using that data it can establish the temperature setbacks that save energy. These sensors have simplified programming of thermostats. The temperature will set back automatically when the home is empty, and should someone come home unexpectedly, the sensor will turn the system back on.

These thermostats also give you the ability to override any settings the current home occupant has specified from anywhere. There are also options, with certain thermostats, for password protection.This feature only allows the people you choose permission to alter the temperature settings.

Major Brands

  • The Nest- This was the first thermostat with smart technology capabilities on the market. It is still a market leader that has a user-friendly interface and is compatible with most HVAC systems.
  • The Ecobee- This is another major brand with similar features as the Nest.
  • Honeywell- One of the nation’s oldest companies, this brand also offers a smart thermostat at half the price of either the Nest or Ecobee without sacrificing any features.
  • Other smart thermostat brands are available and a professional from TemperaturePro can help you choose which would work best for your home.

System Compatibility

Determining whether your HVAC system is compatible with specific types and brands of smart thermostats will require some basic knowledge of the subject. Because smart thermostats are still a fairly new technology, newer systems will generally have greater cross-compatibility than older units.

The most common limiting factor with regard to compatibility is the thermostat wiring. TemperaturePro professionals can help you discover which thermostats will work best with your unit. Installing a device that’s not electrically compatible could damage your HVAC system’s control board, which is why it is important to have an expert there to help you with certain decisions.

Some manufacturers who offer their own smart thermostats are advantageous in that they have the ability to report to you how the system is operating. You’ll receive alerts about if a component isn’t functioning at full capacity, when the system needs professional maintenance, or even when to simply change the air filter.

Heat Pumps are Special

Heat pumps work just like air conditioners during the summer, helping pump cooler air through the home. That all changes in the winter when they switch to heat. An auxiliary heating coil is used in most heat pumps to provide emergency back-up heat. Whenever the heat pump can’t warm your home adequately within a given period of time, this coil uses electricity to supply that heat.

Unless your thermostat knows how to shut off the emergency heat setting, the cost of heating your home will increase. Electricity alone is the least efficient way to provide home heat.

When you choose a smart thermostat, be sure that it has the capacity to override the emergency setting. The technical term is an intelligent or adaptive recovery thermostat. You may also see the term “balance point” used with compatible smart thermostats. Your TemperaturePro technician will know the best brands and types of thermostats to use with a heat pump to maximize savings in the heating mode.

Bottom Line

You don’t need a smartphone to enjoy the benefits of a smart thermostat, and they are many, like energy savings, convenience, control and comfort. The technicians from TemperaturePro can help you select the most suitable for your HVAC system, lifestyle, and your energy saving goals.

Leave a Reply