Smart Thermostats: Are They Worth the Upgrade?

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Smart Thermostats: Are They Worth the Upgrade?

Is it worth the upgrade to install a Smart Thermostat in your home? Many homeowners ask themselves these days if they should upgrade their thermostats, as Smart Thermostats have become more popular. But do they work? Do they save you money on your energy bills? This blog post will answer all of your questions about smart thermostats and help you decide if one is right for you.

What Is a Smart Thermostat?

Smart Thermostats

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If you’ve been around long enough, a thermostat used to be a little dial that let you set or adjust your desired temperature. The old thermostat would command your AC or Heat to turn on and work until your house reached that temperature. Generally, this means that you would need to be around to adjust the temperature throughout the day to remain comfortable.

A step up from that, and what more homeowners are used to, is a Programmable Thermostat that is more updated and allows users to program automatic temperature adjustments. Essentially this will enable you to program set temperatures throughout the day and night based on your schedule.

A Smart Thermostat is a type of thermostat that you can control and program while using a smartphone or computer.

  • It can also learn your habits and adjust the temperature accordingly to save energy and money on your heating and cooling bills.
  • Some models can calculate how long it will take to heat or cool your home to a specific temperature and use that to schedule temperature changes.
  • By using a system of sensors, geolocation, and your smartphone’s signal, your smart thermostat can detect when you are home and adjust the temperatures accordingly.
  • Because of innovative technology, you can even make adjustments through voice-activated technology like Alexa.

Things Homeowners Need to Know About Smart Thermostats

Smart Thermostats

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Homeowners must make an informed decision about whether or not to install a smart thermostat in their homes. While smart thermostats are becoming more prevalent in homes today, it’s essential to understand the potential disadvantages of using them.

Hurt the Budget

One disadvantage of using a smart thermostat is that it can be expensive. Prices for intelligent thermostats range from around $100 to $250, which is more than the cost of traditional or programmable thermostats. Usually, they save an average of 11% on heating and 15% on heating and pay for themselves in two years. However, the savings may not matter overall because of the high initial cost.

System Compatibility

Another potential disadvantage of using a smart thermostat is that it may not work with your current heating and cooling system. Smart thermostats are not universal and aren’t ready to go out of the box. You will have to ensure that the thermostat is compatible with your HVAC unit and home wiring.

Most smart thermostats like the Nest, Ecobee, or Honeywell models, are only compatible with low-voltage HVAC systems. These systems are known as central heat or air. Typically, these systems have a single thermostat that controls a furnace along with a heat pump.

If you have a line voltage system for your HVAC, then it’s most likely not compatible with the majority of intelligent thermostats available on the market. Also, if your home system is more complex and has multiple components, it may require a professional touch to do it correctly.

Installation Issues

Additionally, technology issues can be a common problem for homeowners using intelligent thermostats. Unless you are technically inclined, you may have some issues navigating the installation process of your smart thermostat. It’s not a simple process and usually requires multiple steps to complete.

It may require installing hardware into your wall and on the studs. You may also have to measure and cut through drywall and maneuver wiring to install them appropriately. Another issue is using a C-wire, which older homes don’t usually have.

The C-wire allows the intelligent thermostat to run its programming while performing its job. An adapter is necessary for homes that do not have a C-wire, which means you would have an unsightly cable running to an outlet to use the thermostat.

Occupancy Limitations

The benefit that people usually talk about is how intelligent thermostats can save you quite a bit of money when you aren’t home. However, if you’re home all day or you’ve got pets, it’s unlikely that the thermostat will be able to determine the most efficient way to operate. In addition, the thermostat won’t be able to learn your habits, and if it can’t remember your practices, it can’t help you save money.

Smart Thermostats Do Not Support All Intelligent Devices

A final disadvantage of using a smart thermostat is that they don’t always support the latest in intelligent technology. Your home’s security system, for example, may not be compatible with your new thermostat (think the Nest Outdoor or Indoor cameras.)

Without compatible devices, you’ll have to forgo the benefits of having a smart device in your home. In addition, if you want to create a smart home with a complex device communication network, it will require that you consider your plans for additional devices. Unfortunately, an incompatible intelligent device could get in the way of those plans.

Do They Work with All Types of Systems?

Smart Thermostats

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Most smart thermostats can work with gas and electric systems like furnaces. However, a few smart thermostats on the market can also work with propane or oil systems. Despite that, not all designs will benefit from having a smart thermostat.

For instance, consider the concept of Radiant Heat; this type of heat doesn’t heat the air like traditional systems. Instead, radiant heat systems use a boiler and heat water before sending it around the home to baseboard heaters, radiant flooring, and cast-iron radiators. As a result, radiant heat is several times more efficient and uses infrared heat to do the job.

This technology heats people, furniture, and carpets, not the air. Usually, radiant systems heat and cool slowly, which provides no opportunity for the smart thermostat to establish a pattern and begin saving the user money. Essentially, there would be little cost savings due to the system’s efficiency. No matter what type of system it is, be sure to check and see if the intelligent thermostat you are interested in is compatible.

Potential Benefits of Smart Thermostats

We’ve spent the better part of the article talking about the potential disadvantages of using smart thermostats; it’s difficult for people to believe good reasons to have one. However, despite some disadvantages of using an intelligent thermostat, several benefits outweigh those concerns. Here are some potential benefits:

  • You can save money on your energy bill. Smart thermostats learn your habits and optimize cooling and heating to save you money.
  • They’re easy to use and navigate; you can control your thermostat remotely.
  • They can help reduce your carbon footprint.
  • You can track your energy usage.
  • Most models are compatible with voice assistants like Amazon’s Echo and Google Home so that you can control them hands-free.
  • If you have a compatible security system, smart thermostats can work with it to provide added security for your home.

When shopping for a smart thermostat, be sure to consider all of your needs and wants. There are a variety of models on the market with different features, so you’re sure to find one that fits your home and lifestyle.

Conclusion

Smart thermostats are becoming increasingly popular as homeowners look for ways to save energy and money. They offer great benefits like convenience, energy savings, and more, but there are some drawbacks to be aware of before making your purchase.

At United Air Heating & Cooling Company, we can help you understand the pros and cons of this technology so that you can make the best choice for your home. Contact us today to learn more!