Some of the more common brand names you may have heard about include Nest, Ecobee, Honeywell and others. But what are the real advantages to switching to a smart thermostat?” “A smart thermostat is all about adaptive technology that maximizes the efficiency of your heating and cooling system. It senses and learns in ways that have really evolved over the last few years,” says Jason Elton, an Enhabit Home Performance Advisor. We’ve summarized multiple benefits into five key decision-making areas:
1. Heat and cool only when you need it
The real “smart” in smart thermostats is the way they sense what’s happening and learn your household’s patterns. Like a traditional programmable thermostat, you can set a smart thermostat to keep the temperature in the range you like, and adjust based on the time of day and day of the week. But a smart thermostat goes further with sensors that observe when you’re home and awake, and runs heating or cooling to maintain comfort. When you’re gone or asleep, it turns the system down to save energy.
2. Save money
By running the heater or air conditioner only when you need them most, smart thermostats save energy and money. These thermostats also help you save by showing energy usage history, so you can compare over time and adjust settings to conserve more. The EPA’s Energy Star program estimates programmable thermostats save up to $180 per year on heating and cooling.
3. Easy to use
Compared with traditional programmable thermostats, smart thermostats are easy to set up and use, with interfaces similar to smart phones. The graphics are simple and the LCD displays are bright and sharp, and use color to communicate what’s happening (for example the Nest shows orange when the heater is running and blue when the air conditioner is on). You can change the temperature or set the schedule with just a few clicks.
4. Remote access and control
With Wi-Fi at home, it’s easy to access a smart thermostat remotely; from a desktop or laptop computer, a tablet or smartphone. Why is this important? Say you’re coming home from work earlier than usual on a hot summer day and you want to pre-cool the home. Just open a web browser or app to turn on the air conditioner. Imagine being out of town during a sudden cold spell back at home, and being worried about freezing pipes or your pet. Open your app and turn up the heat!
5. A smarter home
A smart thermostat connects to an increasing number of other smart devices. Today, you can connect smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, security cameras, appliances and even light bulbs and doorbells to your smart thermostat. The list grows daily. The Nest even connects to virtual home assistants like Amazon’s Echo, so you can speak commands like “Alexa, turn the heat up to 72 degrees.” Maybe we’re living the future of the Jetsons after all.