Spring! What a wonderful time of year! Except when it comes to setting and forgetting your thermostat or picking out clothing for the day. The months of March, April and May make up what we call spring and the temperature can vary wildly. Punxsutawney Phil sometimes predicts a shorter winter but that doesn’t mean we’re completely out of winter’s reach. A blast of arctic air with a 50 degree temperature swing can turn your spring picnic plan upside down and it can also leave your home or business very uncomfortable if you’re relying on a thermostat developed in the last century. There is a similar temperature phenomenon when seasons move from late fall to early winter giving rise to a further need to regulate our home and business temperatures. Lucky for all of us, there’s a ready solution available that’s not complex or expensive to implement and it’s called a “smart thermostat” that runs over your WiFi network. These devices work with your existing A/C system and integrate as another component of your “smart home.” Let’s dive into this.
There are a number of competing standards for “smart” technology that help automate and monitor our homes and businesses. There are integrations made for Amazon, Google, Apple, Samsung, IFTTT, and more. Currently, the market leaders are Amazon’s Alexa and Google Assistant, so our focus here will be to discuss technologies that at least work with those two. A “Smart Thermostat” will work with a WiFi network and your existing automation system or in at least one instance, come with its own built-in smart hub. A model with the built-in option might be a good option for a remote office or second home where keeping it simple is paramount. The wide array of available smart thermostats can be dizzying so it’s important to focus on compatibility, features, and installation ease. Have an Alexa at home? Get a thermostat that works with it. Same goes for Google. Easy so far, right? So let’s explore features.
Is anyone in your home or business sight challenged? Not to worry, all of these thermostats can respond to voice controls through the home automation system. Going beyond that, one even has sensors that know when you’re nearby, and will change from a general temperature display mode to a user control mode when you walk up close to it. Pretty nifty!
Many features are universal for smart thermostats where they share a number of advantages over traditional thermostats. A big one is the ability to adjust temperatures when away from your home or business via an app or web interface. Have a busy schedule? Smart thermostats are programmable and will run on the settings you choose but remain amenable for custom control any time. And they have a “learning” capability to adapt to your habits over time and schedule temperature changes accordingly. They can also be programmed to ping you over the internet when a change is made or something unusual occurs. Maybe someone at the home or office is manually changing the temperature outside your parameters which could lead to a costly power bill or spoiled food if the temperature is left too high.
We mentioned the power bill briefly but controlling the thermostat’s temperature setting is a major advantage for smart systems. Power companies anticipate that consumers will use less power when they implement smart thermostats and most of them will offer a credit or rebate upon installation. That makes the economics of adopting this technology that much sweeter. And the savings on power is not limited to the thermostat. In a smart home, automated drapes can be configured to close during the hottest parts of the day when particular windows receive direct sunlight. And for those of you that are real energy misers, many smart wall plugs can also report what their usage is and be configured to shut off lights, appliances, and more in an effort to limit heat and wasted watts. All this over WiFi means easy installation without excessive wiring.
Finally, ease of installation should be part of your consideration. If you’re not a wiring expert or you don’t understand the fundamentals of HVAC systems, you might want to leave it to a pro. A missing “common” wire can be a source of future headache when it comes to keeping a smart thermostat’s battery topped off. They are configured to compensate but not every A/C system appreciates the micro-cycling that can occur in conjunction with a smart thermostat that engages an A/C unit just enough to charge themselves. This micro-cycling activity is not supposed to turn the unit all the way on but in some instances, because of the heterogeneous nature of mixing new thermostat models with existing HVAC units, a system can wind up in a loop of on/off or just fail to run at all leaving one’s home or business without heat or air conditioning on a day you might need it most. A professional HVAC company or home automation professional will help you avoid such problems by leveraging their knowledge of wiring and trusted smart thermostat brands.
Contact us today and start enjoying the convenience, comfort, savings, and go green with a smaller carbon footprint. Join the smart home technology revolution and save some money while you’re at it!