Are Smart Home Thermostats Worth it?

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To be honest, it took a fair amount of time for people to consider making the house a smart home. There was an era when most houses came equipped with traditional thermostats and not many people cared about it. They looked boring and ordinary. 

With the advent of smart devices, smart thermostats have evolved rapidly and are now a necessity in every modern new-age home.

What is a Smart Home Thermostat?

Smart home thermostats are Wi-Fi-enabled devices that automatically adjust the heating and cooling settings in your home for maximum benefit.

A smart home thermostat can be controlled by a smartphone or tablet. It makes it possible to control the climate in your home remotely. The majority of smart thermostats feature a mobile device or web interface, allowing you to regulate your home’s temperature remotely.

Do Smart Thermostats save money?

Yes! By using a smart thermostat, you can save on an average of up to 10% on your energy costs. But it can be more or less depending on how you use them. The one with better learning ability tends to be more effective in saving energy if your daily schedule is easy to predict.

Don’t believe in the marketing gimmicks that make you believe mere installing a smart thermostat will save you money on heating and air conditioning. To get the maximum out of any device, you need to know how it works.

True smart thermostats learn from your usage patterns and perform better over time. The longer you use them, the better they perform. They know and predict better about when you will be home or away. And what temperature you would prefer at what time of day in a particular season or based on the outside temperature.

These timely decisions by the thermostat help in saving energy and money. This is vital for your HVAC system as it is the major contributor to your energy bills.

It is also important to understand that every home is different. Each home has different usage patterns. While some may have predictable patterns others have erratic usage patterns. So the saving may be lower or even higher in some situations. For eg: a vacation home or Airbnb will be hard to predict by the thermostat.

When the temperature inside the house and outside differs significantly, your energy bill will be high. If you live in a hotter or colder part of the world, your savings will be lower.

How do Smart Thermostats work?

A smart thermostat works with wifi and can be operated remotely even when you are not at home. A smart thermostat setup consists of three major components ie. one that goes into the HVAC system, the thermostat itself, and the smart app on your phone.

Like a programmable thermostat, you can schedule and adjust the temperature but these have smart features like learning capability that makes automatic adjustments more effective. No matter wherever you are, you have access to your thermostat at your fingertips through your smartphone. 

They can also work with other smart devices and be part of the automation you set up in your smart home.

How to get the maximum out of your Smart Thermostat?

From the right installation to the right thermostat settings, there are a few things that you must remember to get the most from your smart thermostat. The below points will help you save on your power bills if implemented correctly.

Installation: It is probably one of the most important factors that affect the performance of your device. If installed incorrectly or at the wrong spot in the room, the temperature readings can be off. 

Make sure the thermostat is installed at a point where it is not directly exposed to extreme cooling or heat, for eg: near an AC vent or close to a fireplace. 

Make sure to select a spot that reflects the actual temperature of the room to get more accurate readings.

Temperature Settings: As the day progresses, we need a different temperature setting in the room to feel comfortable. The scheduling feature comes in handy to set appropriate temperatures throughout the day. By using it on the recommended settings, we can save energy.

Below are settings recommended by Energy Star that can be used as a reference point to schedule the temperature.

SettingTimeSetpoint Temperature (Heat)Setpoint Temperature (Cool)
Wake6:00 a.m< 70 degrees F> 78 degrees F
Day8:00 a.mSetback at least 8 degrees FSetup at least 7 degrees F
Evening6:00 p.m< 70 degrees F> 78 degrees F
Sleep10:00 p.mSetback at least 8 degrees FSetup at least 7 degrees F

During long absences or on vacations, the schedule can be kept constant during the day and adjusted in the mornings at sunrise and evenings when the sunsets.

Create Multiple Zones: These days many people opt for smart thermostats for multiple zones or multiple rooms. Although this may be expensive to set up initially but creating multiple zones in the house can lead to huge energy savings month after month. 

It does not make sense to cool or heat the entire home when you are using one or two rooms throughout the day. Having an HVAC zone system helps in dividing the home into clusters for personalized heating and cooling in that zone or cluster. Each zone will require separate thermostats for controlling the temperature.

What are the benefits of a Smart Thermostat?

Smart home thermostats are not fancy devices that make your home look futuristic. There are many advantages of using a smart thermostat. Let us look at some of the key benefits that make them worth buying.

Savings: The biggest advantage is cost-saving. It helps you save energy by maintaining the temperature to desired levels. You can set routines and schedules so that it consumes less energy by running only when you need.

According to Ecobee analysis conducted in April 2021, those using its thermostat in North America saved up to 26% in electricity costs.

Remote Access: Imagine an unexpected friend dropping in while you are not at home. Having smart devices in your smart home can be a real help. You can open the smart lock at the main door remotely or by providing the guest access token and warm up the home remotely using your smart home thermostat.

Also, if you are on vacation, you can check the temperature remotely and adjust the schedule as needed to save money on energy costs.

Track Power Consumption: Another key advantage is that you can easily keep track of how much energy is being consumed. Based on your consumption patterns, you can set routines to lower your energy consumption.

Alerts: Alerts or notifications are beneficial to keep your HVAC system running smoothly. Apart from regular maintenance alerts, you will also be notified whenever there is an anomaly. It can significantly reduce the chances of any accidents.

The system will send you an alert if the temperature suddenly changes outside of the specified range.

Scheduling: Smart home thermostats allows remote monitoring and create schedules of cooling and heating through user-friendly phone apps. 

Smart Learning: The majority of the devices are equipped with sensors that help the thermostat learn behaviors on the energy usage of the home. They learn when people are more active, at home or away from the home. This learning helps the smart thermostat to suggest a schedule or make changes automatically to reduce power usage.

Compatibility with Smart Devices: These devices are great on their own, but they become even more useful when they work in conjunction with other smart devices. They can share useful information with other devices so that they can talk to each other.

Using voice commands with Amazon Echo (Alexa) or Google Home is one such cool feature made possible by this compatibility.

Smart Thermostat vs Programmable Thermostat

If you have been using old-fashioned manual thermostats and are planning to upgrade, you should know the difference between a smart thermostat and a programmable thermostat. Even though both let you control and set the temperature automatically, there are some major differences you need to know before you make your purchase.

Smart ThermostatProgrammable Thermostat
Ability to schedule the temperature setting manually as well as automatically by learning from the usage patternAbility to schedule the temperature settings manually.
Ability to sense occupancy in the room or at home and adjust the settings to the desired temperature.Movement sensors are missing.
Ability to track weather changes and make changes automatically.Do not track changes in weather conditions.
Ability to schedule events or routines when you are on vacationDo not support scheduling of events.
Extra saving on power bills.Lower power saving as compared to smart thermostats.
Wifi-enabled and can be operated remotely via smartphone app or the web.Remote operation functionality is missing.
Option to view reports on energy consumption and make changes in schedules accordingly.No such feature to view reports.
Geofencing feature triggers the HVAC system  to make the home comfortable when you reach near your house Geofencing feature is missing.
Effective Multiple zoned supportMultiple zone support is not available.
Support voice commandsDo not support voice commands.

What is Matter Interoperability Protocol for Smart Home devices?

Matter is a new emerging protocol designed for smart home devices that will make connectivity seamless with any smart home device. It was earlier called Project CHIP (connected home over IP) but is now renamed as Matter.

In 2022, most smart devices will start using this protocol making them more secure and more importantly, seamless connectivity.

It is an open-source code and has been the demand of the market for an interoperable protocol. Hence all smart home manufacturers have joined hands to support and adopt Matter.

Google Nest is the first one to roll out Matter Approved devices.

Will Matter work with Zigbee and Zigwave?

Zigbee Alliance is playing a minor role in making Matter a reality so it will not be wrong to assume that it will work with Zigbee and Zigwave. The existing technology won’t stop working suddenly but it will be essential to make existing devices continue working for customer trust.

The Matter is based on IP and Zigbee Alliance is working with them on a communication channel that can work with CHIP.

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