As wireless technology expands and we enter into the age of the “Internet of things” our world is becoming more and more connected. Our phones have become “smart.” So have our TVs. And now, our homes are becoming “smart” as well.
It’s pretty common knowledge by now that thermostats you can control remotely through an app in your phone are widely available. There’s certainly something to be said for the novelty and luxury of adjusting the temperature of your home while you’re away or before you return, but smart thermostats offer many more benefits beyond simply comfort and convenience:
Automatic Climate control: One of the main reasons these thermostats are called “smart” is because they have the ability to learn. A smart thermostat can learn your preferred temperature preferences and start to regulate the temperature on its own. This keeps your unit from working too hard by planning ahead.
Programmable settings: For years, thrifty homeowners have looked for savings on their energy bills by turning their furnaces off when they are away and turning them back on when they get home. The trade-off, however has always been comfort. But, a learning thermostat can be programmed to turn off and on at certain times, allowing you to program your house to be toasty warm the moment you walk in the door.
Energy consumption tracking: You may rely on your monthly bill to figure out how much energy you consumed the previous month, but, with a smart thermostat, you can track your consumption in real time. This gives you a chance to adjust your thermostat down a few degrees before you get a sky-high energy bill at the end of the month.
Like any new technology, however, smart thermostats need to be evaluated according to their overall benefit to the user. So, here’s the real question to ask: Is a smart thermostat the right option for you? Here are some things to consider:
Is it worth the investment? Obviously, a smart thermostat is going to cost you more than a standard unit. But, with more models popping up every year, the prices are coming down. They do require an upfront investment, but you might be able to recoup the cost in less than a year if they help lower your monthly energy bills. Take a look at your bill over the last year to assess whether or not the addition of a smart thermostat would save you money in the long run.
Do I need more than one? A small home probably only needs one smart thermostat installed in a central location. But a larger home, or a home with zoned cooling and heating, may need more than one to fully benefit from the technology, as different areas may require separate controls.
Should I link it to other automated systems? If you already have a security system you control remotely using your smartphone, it might be worth the price for the convenience of being able to link in your HVAC—this will give you total control of your home with the push of a button from a single phone app.
How smart is too smart? Various news stories over the past few years have shown that the “internet of things” may not be quite as secure as we would like to think. Hackers have taken advantage of security flaws in a number of smart devices to gain access to personal information and even in some cases to breach the privacy of people’s homes. A little bit of research into the brands you are considering never hurts. And it’s also important to carefully consider your own level of comfort when plugging your home into the networked world.
If you have any questions, feel free to contact our knowledgeable staff at Ottawa Plumbing and Heating. We can help you pick the smart thermostat that’s just right for you and your home.