According to EnergyStar, the average consumer saves 8% of their energy and $50 per year by simply using a smart thermostat. Smart thermostats work in conjunction with your smartphone, HVAC system, and other smart devices to control the temperature in your home. Via Wi-Fi, you can control smart thermostats with a smartphone app and change the temperature setting to match your preferences and needs.
By using a smart thermostat, you can ensure your HVAC system only runs when you need it to. Unlike their predecessors, programmable thermostats, smart thermostats take automation to the next level by not only adjusting the temperature according to a schedule, but by also sensing and predicting what temperature and HVAC power you’ll need at particular times. However, while smart thermostats have similar functions, they vary in their design, features, and how they work. With many different types of smart thermostats on the market, below are some items to keep in mind as you compare your options.
A Smart Thermostat and Your HVAC System
Before you go shopping, make sure you know exactly what type of HVAC system you have. This will help ensure you are purchasing a smart thermostat that will pair well with your current heating and cooling system. Although most smart thermostats are compatible with popular HVAC systems, you will want to double-check before purchasing your smart thermostat. Some smart thermostats do not support separate heating and cooling systems.
Take the cover off your current thermostat and make a note of what kind of wiring you have. Older thermostats may only have 2 wires, but the newer smart models often require a C-wire. If you don’t have a C-wire, you will either need a C-wire installed or an adapter. Consult an electrician before purchasing anything.
Compatibility with Your Smart Devices
Most smart thermostats are compatible with other automated devices in your home, such as Alexa, Apple devices or Google Home, but verify compatibility with your device before you make a purchase.
Smart Thermostat Operating Technologies
Smart thermostats use one of three different operating technologies. Some use an algorithm: you input your daily or weekly schedule and over time, the thermostat learns your schedule and can automatically adapt to changes. For example, if you are not home during a time when you were previously scheduled to be, your thermostat will notice that you haven’t passed near its motion sensors during that time of day and learn to power your HVAC system down during that time frame.
Some smart thermostats use geofencing: they determine your location from your phone’s tracker. When you are outside of the home range that you set, your thermostat knows to switch to away mode. When you return to a location within the smart thermostats range, your smart thermostat will power on your HVAC. This technology works best if all occupants are out of the house at the same time and if no one works or attends school near your home. And finally, some smart thermostats use remote sensor technology. If it detects you in your home, it goes into home mode. If it senses you are not home, it powers down your HVAC system. Of course, you need to make sure to walk by it on a regular basis when you are home and want your HVAC system powered up.
You may want to check out EnergyStar’s list of certified smart thermostat models. If the smart thermostat you purchase is EnergyStar certified, you may be eligible for a rebate from your energy provider.