When it comes to comfort, few developments have revolutionized the American home quite like central heating and air. And while technology has stayed pretty consistent over the last couple of decades, thermostats have steadily improved in recent. For homeowners, upgrading to the right thermostat could yield significant benefits.
Why Switch to a Smart Thermostat?
For many years, thermostats were pretty basic. You had to manually adjust the dial to achieve the desired temperature. If you failed to change the temperature prior to leaving for work or vacation, your HVAC system would continue to hold the same temperature until you returned.
Then came programmable thermostats, which made it possible to set schedules. This allowed homeowners to pre-program different temperatures at certain times of the day. However, once a schedule was set, you had to go in and manually tweak it if you wanted to make a change.
Over the past few years, homeowners have watched as smart thermostats have entered the marketplace and overtaken programmable thermostats as the go-to technology for controlling indoor temperatures.
A smart thermostat is basically a thermostat that can be controlled with a mobile device – regardless of whether you’re home or away. Depending on the exact make and model, these smart devices have the ability to learn your habits and adjust accordingly. They can also be connected to other home automation systems for greater versatility. Benefits include:
- Lower energy costs. Energy savings represent the biggest benefit of smart thermostats – and energy savings mean cost savings. Depending on the thermostat, manufacturers claim average homeowners see anywhere from 10 to 23 percent savings on heating and cooling costs throughout the year.
- Optimal comfort. Practically speaking, a smart thermostat allows you to easily and effortlessly maintain the optimal temperature 24 hours a day.
- Convenience. Whether you’re out of town and want to adjust your thermostat before arriving home, or you’re on the sofa and simply don’t feel like getting up to manually adjust the temperature, a smart thermostat allows you to control everything with a couple of swipes on your phone.
- Increases HVAC system longevity. Most of the top smart thermostats have diagnostic features that can alert the homeowner to problems with ducting and other issues. They can also provide reminders for things like system upkeep. When combined with regular maintenance from a certified HVAC technician, a smart thermostat can help homeowners get more out of their systems.
- Energy tracking. For homeowners interested in tracking their energy consumption, smart thermostats can create a home energy profile. This helps provide a comprehensive picture of your carbon footprint.
How to Find the Right Smart Thermostat for Your Home
Making the decision to buy a smart thermostat is always a smart choice. But with so many different makes and models, how do you select the right one? Here are some tips:
1. Set a Budget
You can find smart thermostats in a range of price points, so make sure you set a budget from the start. Budget-friendly options start around $60 to $80, while higher-end thermostats will set you back $100 to $200.
2. Consider Features
Every smart thermostat comes with different features. It’s up to you to determine which ones you want and/or need. Common features include smart schedules, geo-services, triggered automation, activity-based learning, and goal setting. The more features you want, the more expensive the thermostat will run. (However, it could also result in more cost savings.)
3. Ensure Compatibility
Never assume that a smart thermostat will work with your heating and cooling system. Do your research to ensure that it’s compatible.
“For example, the Nest Thermostat E doesn’t support two-stage heat pump systems, but the Nest Learning Thermostat does,” Consumer Reports mentions. “And if you have separate heating and cooling systems, you may need to install a separate thermostat for each system, as well as each zone of heating and cooling.”
If you have a traditional system, you won’t run into much trouble. Just make sure you do a little digging on the front end to avoid the hassle of incompatibility on the back end.
Adding it All Up
The popularity of smart thermostats means manufacturers have finally reached economies of scale. This means lower price points and better features for consumers. With so many benefits, what are you waiting for? Now’s the time to make a smart purchase.