Advances in technology have made it easier and less expensive to operate and maintain a home. Wifi connectivity has been incorporated into everything from washers and dryers to coffee makers and thermostats. At one time, thermostats were simply plastic dials that only allowed manual adjustment of temperature. They were inexpensive and easy to install and operate. However, they didn’t provide any extra features or even maintain a precise temperature. Over the past few years, thermostats have evolved to provide superior comfort, cost-savings and control over the indoor climate. They offer the opportunity for set-and-forget and hands-off operation. While the cost has certainly risen, these technologically evolved controls pay for themselves.
The first step above a manual thermostat is a programmable option. These models aren’t overly expensive or all that complicated to install. They typically allow the homeowner to create a seven day program. The thermostat adapts throughout the day according to a set schedule. It can be directed to raise or lower temperature at specific times to conserve energy while the home is empty and ensure ideal comfort when the family is at home. Programmable thermostats can save a considerable amount of money simply by adjusting heating or cooling by a few degrees. Unfortunately, any changes to the schedule need to be made manually.
The latest innovations in temperature control are smart thermostats. There are a wide range of manufacturers, styles and features to choose from. Most of them are very streamlined and modern looking, with touchscreen interfaces. It’s a good idea to contact a professional HVAC contractor to ensure a model that accommodates the specific heating and cooling system and complete proper installation. The HVAC contractor can explain the long list of features, benefits and limitations of each one. The one thing smart thermostats have in common is that they connect to wifi. That allows remote access. The homeowner doesn’t need to be on the premises to make adjustments. Through a smartphone, laptop or tablet, the homeowner is able to check up on the HVAC system’s operation, alter programs or make changes to temperature at anytime. Whether at home, stuck at work or half a world away on vacation, the thermostat is never further than a tap of the fingertip away.
One of the biggest advantages of a wifi thermostat is the information it provides. The thermostat keeps track of the amount of energy consumed and when. It offers tips to trim costs and minimize the carbon footprint, which is good for both the environment and the budget. Plus, the thermostat sends out an email or text message if there’s a power outage, temperature fluctuation or a maintenance need, such as a dirty filter. It will send a reminder when it’s time to schedule service and if there’s a concern with the heater or air conditioner, the system will even contact a specific HVAC contractor directly. Many times, the issues can be resolved through remote diagnosis, eliminating the cost and inconvenience of a repair.
Smart thermostats allow set and forget operation and automatically adapt to the preferences and schedules of the family. Quite a few models keep track of changes made during the first week of operation and build a schedule accordingly. The thermostat then raises or lowers the temperature setting to ensure ideal comfort while optimizing cost savings. Other thermostats feature geofencing. The thermostat tracks the location of family members’ smartphones. It knows when the house is occupied or empty. It registers when a family member is on their way home and makes the necessary adjustments. There’s also occupancy sensors which alert the thermostat whenever someone enters or vacates a room. These innovative options greatly reduce energy waste. The homeowner isn’t paying to maintain an empty home at the perfect comfort level.
Another opportunity to reduce heating and cooling costs is zone control. A series of valves are installed into the ductwork to regulate the flow of air. Thermostats are mounted in each room and linked to a main smart thermostat. This allows customized room-by-room adjustment. Those rooms that tend to heat up or feel chilly can be targeted without impacting the others. Empty rooms can be kept cooler or warmer to minimize wear and tear on the HVAC system. Not only does zone control save money, but promotes greater reliability and longevity from the heating and cooling equipment. Plus, family members are able to customize comfort to personal preferences.
Some modern thermostats offer voice commands. The homeowner can simply tell the thermostat what they want it to do. Many partner with different platforms such as Alexa, Siri or Google. Others will light up when a person enters the room and offer large displays to make them easier to read. While these innovations seem complicated, they are surprisingly user-friendly. They offer an easy to navigate interface and make programming simple.
A wifi thermostat can integrate into a whole home automation system. A smart home bundles the various appliances and systems into a single control hub for remote operation. Heating, cooling, air quality accessories, ovens, sump pumps, lights and all sorts of smart electronics can be included. Smart lights can be programmed to turn on and off to make the home appear occupied when the family is away on vacation. Window sensors alert the homeowner if there is glass breakage or a window is opened. Automatic door locks enable the homeowner to unlock and lock doors at anytime from anywhere. Servicemen or guests can be allowed in and out. Surveillance cameras provide a view of who is standing on the front porch or anywhere on the property. Alerts inform the homeowner when their children arrive home, if there’s an excess of water in the basement, smoke or other potential problems. The smart system can be linked to a security firm for quicker response to a break-in or a fire. These systems are designed to accommodate the specific home and are virtually future-proof. From superior efficiency, safety and security to enhanced comfort, air quality and convenience, a smart home is a good investment. These systems are gaining popularity in both residential and commercial application, providing exceptional benefits.