Smart Thermostats: Passing Trend or Wave of the Future?

Its seems everything is getting smarter these days. Phones, cars, bracelets, refrigerators. It’s no surprise that thermostats have followed suit. The big names in heating and cooling, including Carrier and Honeywell, have already put smart thermostats on the market. And if the trend toward convenient, mobile-friendly technology continues, smart thermostats will only become more prevalent.

smart thermastatThe possible benefits are exciting:

First, smart thermostats allow you to control the air temperature of your home or business from anywhere in the world, provided you have an internet connection and a device that runs the manufacturer’s app.

Programmable thermostats opened up new possibilities, but smart thermostats take them further. For example, what if you forgot to program your thermostat? With a smart thermostat, it’s not an issue. If you want to your home or business to be nice and warm (or nice and cool) when you walk in the door, simply tap a few buttons on your phone or tablet, and the system goes to work.

Besides taking convenience to a new level, smart thermostats open the door to cost savings. Forgot to turn off the A/C before leaving work? Your phone or tablet will tell you what’s going on, and give you full control—whether you are on a train, plane, or at the office.

Smart thermostats can also deliver valuable information on your heating and cooling systems. They can notify you of clogged filters or other maintenance issues that affect performance. Certain models, such as the Cor by Carrier, even give detailed reports on energy usage and cost savings—which can be particularly useful during long stretches of hot or cold weather.

So what are the drawbacks? Do smart thermostat really measure up to their promise?

One obvious drawback is the cost. While a decent programmable thermostat comes with a very friendly price tag—as low as $25—smart thermostats currently run anywhere from $170 – $300 depending on make and model. It is possible to save on energy costs by installing smart technology, but it could take awhile to recuperate the cost of the device.

Additionally, since this is still the first wave of smart thermostats, there could be significant improvements and upgrades in years to come. Some people might find it prudent to stick with their current thermostat a little longer, and wait for smart thermostats to progress.

Another potential pitfall involves installation and integration across different platforms. Many people who have attempted DIY installations of smart thermostats have reported multiple snags and issues along the way. For the amateur installer, it may not be immediately apparent how to make the technology work with heating and cooling appliances of different ages and types. An HVAC specialist may be needed in order to make sure everything is working as it should.

One other point on functionality: Smart thermostats have different levels of accuracy. Those that claim to maintain a set temperature to within one degree of accuracy will cause the system to run more often than, say, those that only maintain the set temperature within three degrees. This is a consideration for some people who might not want the system to be too fussy, or others who might not want it to be too lenient.

The bottom line

All in all, smart thermostats are an exciting development that shows no signs of slowing down. HVAC is one of the most useful frontiers of smart technology, since so many buildings are heated and cooled around the world every day.

The smart thermostats on the market right now are surprisingly effective and full of features. The majority of early adopters are giving positive feedback.

Due to their seeming complexity and high price point, smart thermostats may not be for everyone today—but in twenty years, you might well see one in every home.

If you have any questions or comments about smart thermostats, or would like to talk about getting one installed in your home or business, we can help!