Today’s ultra-intelligent thermostats ensure that your house is always comfortable and your utility bills are in check.
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, the typical U.S. family spends at least $2,200 per year on energy bills—with nearly half of that paying for heating and cooling. The obvious solution is to set back the AC and furnace, but why sacrifice your comfort when you can invest in a smarter, simpler, more efficient type of thermostat that can curb your energy consumption automatically?
Smart thermostats have been available for some time, starting with “programmable” thermostats. These thermostats allow you to create a daily schedule for the thermostat to follow. They are effective but can be difficult to program—so much so that many people simply fail to use this money-saving feature.
Thankfully, manufacturers have recognized this shortcoming, and over the years have made smart thermostats vastly easier to use. They’ve also incorporated a host of other perks that have turned a device—once ignored or cursed for its cumbersome controls—into a friendly, engaging device on the wall.
Here are some of the key benefits a smart thermostat offers:
THERE’S AN APP FOR THAT
Instead of struggling to set a schedule by hopelessly fiddling with dials on the thermostat itself, you can now cruise through the setup from a simple, intuitive mobile app on your smartphone or tablet. The process is straightforward, and if your home has more than one thermostat, you can control both devices from the same app. The app also lets you adjust thermostats on the fly; for example, if the house feels too warm as you crawl into bed you can go to the app and lower the heat a few degrees—on one or several thermostats—without ever leaving your bedroom.
You don’t even have to be home to initiate adjustments. Many smart thermostats are WiFi-enabled, which means you can command them from your phone while on the road, at work, or hundreds of miles away on vacation. Business trip cut short? You can pop onto the app at the airport, raise the heat, and have the house warm for your arrival. There’s not an ounce of guesswork involved, as the thermostat feeds real-time readings right to the screen of your phone. Should there be a problem—like a huge temperature swing—a smart thermostat, like one from Control4, can alert you with a push notification so you can act immediately. You'll be able to remotely increase the temperature instead of coming home from a week-long vacation to a house with frozen pipes.
THEY SHARE INFORMATION
With the necessary controls residing conveniently on your smartphone, you probably won’t ever need to touch a thermostat again. But based on their sleek, modern cosmetics and ability to display more than just the current indoor temperature, you just mind find yourself gazing at them occasionally. Because they are connected to the Internet, they can display on their integrated touchscreens the outdoor temperature, indoor air quality levels, and energy-saving data.
THEY PLAY WELL WITH OTHERS
WiFi connectivity facilitates not just communication between your phone/tablet and the thermostat, it also lets the thermostat speak with other smart devices in your home. The thermostat can now play a role in a complete smart home environment. A smart thermostat can adjust automatically based on the settings of a security system, lighting system, home automation system, and even your entertainment system. For example, when the security system is an “Away” mode, it can signal the thermostat to dial itself back. Through a home automation system, engaging a mode like “Home” could raise the heat, turn on certain lights, open the window shades, and even stream your favorite music playlist through several loudspeakers. In seconds, you’ve created a home environment that is warm and inviting.
SHADES AND SUPERPOWERS
By combining a smart thermostat with motorized window shades, you can realize even greater energy efficiency. Shades help insulate the home interior from hot or cool outdoor air—when the air temperature inside your home is stable, your heating and cooling unit won’t have to work so hard—which means you’ll spend less on heating and cooling. Sure, you can adjust window shades manually to accomplish the same effect, but this can be tedious and inconvenient. Motorized shading can be automated to open and close in several ways: commands issued from a mobile app, the time of day, the time of season, the position of the sun, and even when a smart thermostat alters the indoor temperature.
Smart thermostats and shading are two simple additions that can make a huge difference in the comfort, convenience, and energy efficiency of your home. You’ll be in complete control of the indoor climate, adjusting settings on a whim through a mobile app or letting the ‘stats and shades self-adjust based on parameters you prescribe. With minimal changes to your lifestyle, you’ll be able create the perfect home environment—and save money to boot.