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Your House Is Smarter Than You Think Part Four – Thermostats

by | Feb 18, 2015 | Brian Hill, Smart Homes

Nest Thermostat Away

The proliferation of smart phones in the market place has opened up a whole new world of ways to make your day-to-day life easier. Manufacturers of locks, garage door openers, lighting controls and thermostats have taken notice. There are door locks that unlock when you walk up to the door, garage door openers that you can operate remotely, light switches that you can dim with a touch of a button and thermostats that adjust the temperature in your home according to your schedule. Some of these devices operate using features already built into your smart phone.

Does this sound like science fiction? It’s not. All of the above not only exist as stand-alone devices, but are readily available in the market place. You may even have some in your home right now. If you don’t have any now and want to add smart devices, not only are they cool, they can save you considerable time and money. But aren’t all of those automatic devices expensive? The affordability of the devices just might surprise you.

The four-part series of articles concludes here, with Smart Thermostats.

Being able to learn your schedule and preferences, the ability to connect to your smart phone or home network and providing reports on how you use your thermostat are what make smart thermostats, smart.

Smart Thermostats

Anyone who has a programmable thermostat knows how nice it is to get up on a cold morning to a warm house. The same goes for coming home to a warm house in the winter or a cool house in the summer. Saving money on your utility bill is icing on the cake. What is the difference between a programmable thermostat and a smart one? Programmable thermostats turn the heat or air conditioning on and off at preset times of the day. They do exactly what you program them to do. Being able to learn your schedule and preferences, the ability to connect to your smart phone or home network and providing reports on how you use your thermostat are what make smart thermostats, smart.

Nest

The Nest learning thermostat ($249.00) takes programming out of the thermostat equation. The way it works is by simply learning what temperatures you set, and when you set them, then reacting accordingly. When you get up in the morning and turn the heat on, Nest remembers the time and the temperature setting. After a week or so the house will be warmed to the temperature you want, before you get up. When you leave for work you turn the thermostat down. After a week or so the thermostat turns the heat down for you as you are leaving the house. You like the house warm all day on the weekends. Nest remembers and keeps a steady temperature setting on weekends. You get the idea, set the thermostat like you normally do for a week or so and then the programming takes over for you. The Nest thermostat works the same way for air conditioning.

If you go away for the weekend, just tell the thermostat that you are gone and it will override the normal programming in favor of your away setting. What happens if you forget to tell the thermostat you are gone? You can communicate with the thermostat when you are away from the house using your smart phone or tablet.

Because Nest communicates through your home Wi-Fi, you can call up reports on your home computer that show your energy usage and savings. Knowledge is power. In this case, knowledge saves power, which saves you money.

Honeywell

Honeywell has been making thermostats for home use for decades. They make traditional dumb thermostats – that will turn the heat off when the temperature gets to the setting, period. They also make programmable thermostats that have 2-day, 5-1-1 day and 7-day programming. The model RTH2300B1012/A ($29.99) 2-day programmable thermostat offers one program for weekdays and another one for weekends. The model RTH6450D ($69.99) 5-1-1 day programmable thermostat has one program for the weekdays, one for Saturday and one for Sunday. The model RTH7600D Touchscreen ($99.99) 7-day programmable thermostat has a different program for each day of the week.

Honeywell offers a number of smart thermostats. They start with a Wi-Fi enabled 7-day programmable thermostat. The model RTH6580WF ($167.57) thermostat lets you set temperatures for four different time periods each day. Current temperature and manual setting can be done through a computer or free smart phone app.

Honeywell’s offerings go all the way up to a Wi-Fi enabled, voice controlled thermostat. The model RTH9590WF ($299.99) voice control thermostat considers both indoor and outdoor temperature as well as humidity when controlling heat or A/C. This programming ensures that 72 degrees feels like 72 degrees. In addition to the smart programming above, you can tell the thermostat to raise the temperature 4 degrees and it will do so. The voice recognition algorithm can filter out room noise to recognize spoken commands even from across the room. Pretty neat!

Honeywell has several smart thermostats in between the high and low prices models above. These models vary in the user interface with most offering touch screen technology. All feature the Total Connect Comfort app for iPhone or Android smart phones and tablets.

Ecobee

The Model EB-STATe3-01 ($259.99) Ecobee3 smart thermostat takes a smart thermostat and adds additional temperature sensors. The Ecobee3 literature says this is a thermostat for homes with more than one room. Up to 32 sensors can be integrated into the sensor array. In addition to multiple temperature sensors the Ecobee system also has motion detectors built into the remote temperature sensors. This allows the user to program the thermostat to prioritize the rooms that are being used to maximize the comfort level where you spend your time. As with other manufacturers systems the Ecobee3 is accessible remotely with a free smart phone or tablet app.

Other Brands

There are other manufacturers, not mentioned above, that offer programmable and/or smart thermostats. For the sake of brevity I have limited the descriptions above to the most common, and the newest available in the marketplace. The advantages of using products from major manufacturers is that they generally stand behind their products and offer better price points than lesser known brands.

Conclusion

There are a lot of choices for thermostats in the marketplace today, and more to come. No matter which thermostat you choose, you can expect to have a more comfortable home and save money on utility bills. If you decide to buy a model with Wi-Fi, you can stay connected while away and potentially save even more. There has never been a better time to give your home a dose of smart. The smarter our homes become, the more all consumers win. It’s a beautiful thing!


You've just read part four of a four part series.

Part One – Keyless Entry

Part Two – Garage Door Openers

Part Three – Smart Lighting

Part Four – Thermostats


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About Brian Hill
Brian Hill is a home theater enthusiast who has an extensive background in sales. His interests include music & movies, F1 & NASCAR auto racing, hot rods (he has a '56 Nomad) and hockey — Go Sharks!
Brian Hill's full author bio and article archive...

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