Home Automation: A Buying Guide for Smart Thermostats

Whether you’re looking at it as part of your new home security system, or you just want to have a more convenient, intuitive way of controlling your temperature, a good thermostat is something you should definitely take a look at.

Now, before we get into the nitty-gritty of choosing a thermostat, there’s one thing that we should clear up. A smart thermostat isn’t the same thing as a programmable thermostat. A programmable thermostat can adjust the temperature, and you can have scheduled temperatures and settings, but it’s not exactly smart. And because you should definitely go for a smart home with everything from security to home automation, that’s not what we would recommend.

The problem with thermostats, especially programmable ones, is that they’re really difficult to program. There was a study back in 2015 that concluded that around 40% of all the owners of programmable thermostats didn’t use the programmability to set schedules. This makes them a bad choice because such a thermostat is only effective if programmed well. Sure, you could do that manually and change the settings all the time, but that’s difficult. Enter the smart thermostats.

What Is a Smart Thermostat?

Over the past years, thermostats have become much less difficult to work with. Their controls are simple, and most have a touchscreen display that makes programming a pleasure. But the real benefit of a smart thermostat is the fact that it uses your home’s Wi-Fi network to connect to the internet. This has quite a lot of advantages, which we’ll get to in a moment. And if you’re wondering whether or not they’re worth it, you should know that Energy Star launched a certification that applies specifically for smart thermostats in 2017. Considering that they stopped certifying thermostats as a product category back in 2009, this is an important step forward.

What Are the Main Benefits?

Since a smart thermostat is connected to the internet, the main benefit is the fact that you can control it from wherever you are. All you need is an app on your smartphone, and you can connect to your home and warm it up when you’re on your way from the office. This is honestly an underrated feature and one you’ll fall in love with rather quickly.

However, that’s just the tip of the iceberg. The real thing behind this is that smart thermostats are usually AI-powered to some extent, and over time, they get to learn your habits. They also have access to the local weather, which means they can predict, with excellent accuracy, how you want your home to feel after they’ve come to learn your habits. To add to this, you could even set up location tracking, so the thermostat starts warming up or cooling down your home when it knows you’ll be home soon. However, to get the accurate reading, make sure to keep the home clean always and it can be easily done with any vaccum cleaner. You will get any wall mounted garage vacuums at cheaper price which will be enough for that.

What all of this means, is that the thermostat won’t work when it doesn’t have to, but it will have your home at just the right temperature when you need it. And as you might’ve guessed, this is going to save you quite a bit on electricity bills. Depending on your thermostat of choice, as well as your home and how you use it, you could be saving anywhere from $50 to upwards of $100 per year, on electricity bills. If you thought that smart thermostats are expensive, it’s worth knowing they’ll actually pay for themselves within a couple of years.

Considerations When Buying

Of course, not all smart thermostats are made equal, and when you’re buying yours, you should consider a few things. First and foremost, you should see how compatible the thermostat you’re looking at is with your HVAC system. Does it work with your two-stage heat pump? Can it operate both the heating and the cooling system, even though they’re separate? These are all things you’ll need answers to before you buy it.

To add to this, you should see how your wiring works. Newer thermostats often need a C-wire, which is a common wire that provides continuous power for the display, as well as the Wi-Fi connection. If you aren’t sure your HVAC system has it, you should talk to an HVAC technician and ask them.

And last but certainly not least, you should check out the feature set. Automated temperature changes are something you should definitely go for, and it might be worth getting one that can switch between heating and cooling, depending on the requirements. Oh, and even though you’ll most likely control the thermostat from your smartphone, it’s still a good idea to get one that has a large display with intuitive controls. You won’t always have your phone handy, right?

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