Should I Invest In A "Smart" Thermostat?

Many homeowners have invested in programmable thermostats over the years, providing a cost savings and convenience for operating their cooling and heating systems.  These thermostats are able to maintain preset temperature settings for weekdays and weekend schedules, but require manual overrides, in the event that you want to lower or raise the setting, or alter the time of a setting. Meaning, you are already experiencing discomfort by the time you get to the thermostat, then have to wait for your heating or cooling system to get to catch up to the temperature you are comfortable with.

Our society has developed a culture of instant gratification, where when you want something, you want it now.  Many businesses are capitalizing on that, and have built their companies around providing consumers with products and services how and when they want them. Thermostat manufacturers are no different. 

Today's thermostat manufacturers have identified that homeowner's need and want comfort on demand. A change in schedule, an extremely hot and humid day, or a day with below zero temperatures, should not alter the comfort level of their home, no matter what schedule they pre-programmed in their thermostat month's prior. "Smart Thermostats" provide the solution to meet those needs and wants in maintaining home comfort.

Smart thermostats promise energy savings, cost reduction, and automatic temperature settings based on your habits and preferences.  Not to mention you can use your smart phone to control your heating and air conditioning system remotely, providing easy access when you are away, or forget to alter the settings before leaving for an extended period of time.

While some of us just consider thermostats a control panel to our heating and air conditioning system, smart thermostats provide comfort based on your lifestyle.  What makes most smart thermostats so "smart" is that they learn your behaviors and adapt to meet your desired temperature settings.  They can adjust themselves to accommodate conditions like humidity, and the time it takes to go from an "away" setting to a "home" setting, so that by the time you arrive home, the desired temperature is met.

You may already be saving money by using a programmable thermostat for home and away temperature settings.  Smart thermostats, however, actually learn these times by sensing when you are home and not at home.  "Smarty Stat" is watching you.  That means if your schedule changes your smart thermostat will change the settings automatically, no re-programming is required.  This can eliminate the desire to drop the thermostat to the lowest temperature possible to "cool your house faster" which wastes energy and doesn't actually work.  There are phone apps for some smart thermostats that even provide insight into how much you are spending on your energy costs. 

The cost of smart thermostats vary widely.  Some require a professional contractor to provide the installation.  This will save you time but add to the initial cost.  Those promoted as self-installed are not "plug and play" so be prepared to invest some time in the installation process.  Don't forget you will need to download and learn the new smart phone application if you want remote capabilities as well.

If you already have a standard 7 day, or 5 day/2day programmable thermostat and you have it set to accommodate your regular routine, you are already saving money.  A programmable thermostat can save you up to $200 per year on your energy bills... if you are using it properly. 

If you are still using a non-programmable thermostat, consider making the investment in one.  It is well worth the cost, and will provide a "set it and forget it" experience. When narrowing your choices, consider the thermostat features, price, and attributes that matter to you, such as color, size, or style, and then read reviews by other consumers.

If you are ready to experience comfort, energy savings and convenience like no other, then you are ready for a Smart Thermostat.  The most common, and reliable smart thermostat manufacturers are Nest, Ecobee, and Honeywell.  It is important to do your research on these smart thermostats, as some offer more control than other.

The Nest thermostat, like the Ecobee, offers humidity control, which will alter the way your heating and cooling system operates to reduce, or add moisture in the air. In addition, it has a weather sensor that takes outdoor conditions into consideration when maintain your home comfort levels. In addition, the auto scheduling feature will learn and understand your schedule to maintain optimum comfort, and use WiFi connectivity to allow for remote temperature control.

The Honeywell thermostat also has sensing capabilities, and works with Wifi to provide remote access.  The thermostat provides modifiable wallpaper and a 5-day weather forecast, in addition to an indoor humidity sensor, which can either humidify or dehumidify your home, according to your comfort level. The Honeywell thermostat also has the ability to engage your system fan to enhance the circulation in your room, brining you the highest level of comfort.

Keep in mind that the best place to install a thermostat is on an interior wall and away from vents and other sources of heat and drafts that could distort temperature readings. If you're doing more than a simple replacement, call a heating and cooling professional to assist. This will ensure your thermostat is installed and set up properly, to provide your family with the most efficient and effective way to condition your home.

Tom Scarangello, General Manager - Scaran Heating and Air Conditioning

(718) 984-0805   www.scaran.com