I remember when wifi thermostats first hit the market and thinking to myself, “I need this!” I can’t tell you how many times I came home to a frigid house while it was a scorcher outside to find the thermostat was set to 65 by someone in the house who left for the day six hours prior. Needless to say having access to your temperature controls away from home and alleviating unnecessary utility charges is just a couple of the advantages that make these devices a worthwhile investment. Gone are the days in which this little box attached to your wall merely controls the indoor temperature and tells you the time.
How Smart Thermosats Actually Work
When used properly, a smart thermostat is more than just added convenience. It can save energy and be a money savers friend. The average household spends thousands of dollars each year on energy bills, half of which goes toward heating and cooling empty homes. With that said, there’s a strong possibility you may be spending too much to heat and cool your home while wasting energy in the process. If your energy bills are through the roof, a programmable thermostat is a great way to cut costs.
Programmable thermostats interact with the heating and cooling systems in your home. In the summer, they work with central air conditioning units to keep your home cool and comfortable while in the winter they control your furnace to provide relief when the outdoor temperatures drop. An added bonus to having a smart Wi-Fi thermostat is the simplicity that they provide. Many manufacturers include a home automation functionality in Wi-Fi thermostats which then integrate with other smart home devices. For example, a connected smart lock can activate away mode when you lock your door, a smart fire and carbon monoxide detector can alert your thermostat to shut off your system when it detects emergency levels of smoke or carbon monoxide, an IP camera can send you a video clip when someone adjusts the temperature, and a fitness tracker can send a signal to adjust the temperature while you are sleeping. Regardless of the manufacturer or features, programmable thermostats all have one thing in common: They let you schedule when to heat or cool your home. This feature allows the best programmable thermostats to reduce utility bills and extend the life of your heating and cooling system.
When looking into a programmable thermostat there are a few of factors to heavily consider. Not all homes are the same and what may work for one household may not work for another:
First and foremost, know what you’re working with. Before dropping a couple hundred dollars on a smart thermostat, you need to make sure that it’s compatible with your current system. Central heating and cooling systems are the most common in modern day homes, and they can be 24V, oil, gas, or electric. If you’re not sure which type of system you have, check your furnace. A gas furnace will have a small window on the front of the unit, and you should see a glowing blue flame inside. Gas burners also make a lot of noise. Electric systems don’t have a glass window, and are relatively quiet.
Speaking from experience, educate yourself on the importance of this wire once your system type has been determined. The best WiFi thermostat will probably require a “C” (or Common) wire connection. Why? This low voltage wire is what powers the thermostat, and allows it to connect to your home’s WiFi. Without it, you won’t be able to use its advanced features. If you have an older HVAC system, you may not have this wire available, or it may be hiding in your wall. If you are without the “C” wire, you could run one from your furnace to the thermostat, use a 24v transformer, or if you want to avoid all of that but still be able to control your temperature remotely, then the Sensi Smart Thermostat may be your best option.
Ease of use
When I decided to make this investment, I learned rather quickly that ease of use could ultimately be a deciding factor for many people in selecting a smart thermostat. Heating and cooling your home remotely should be no more difficult than flipping a switch or pressing a button to adjust your temperature, just like the old days. Ease of use amongst smart thermostats can vary a great deal and may depend on just how tech savvy you are. While shopping for a unit that would best fit my needs, i often looked into the product description for images of the user interface. The best smart thermostats won’t make this transition difficult and learning to schedule or change settings should be a piece of cake.
Energy saving and maintenance
In addition to the ability to adjust and control your temperature while away from home, a WiFi thermostat will save you money, and help you extend the life of your HVAC system. If used correctly, all programmable models have the potential to save you money. Make sure that the thermostat lets you create schedules or programs. If it’s convenience you crave, be sure to choose a model that will alert you when it’s time to change your filter or perform other maintenance tasks.
As the old saying goes, you get what you pay for and cost is something that is important to all of us. If your home requires multiple thermostats or you’re just looking for a standard unit that is still fairly basic and will just provide the ability to monitor and control your temperature settings while on the go, then maybe the Honeywell Wi-Fi 7-Day Programmable Thermostat is the way to go as it will only set you back about $70. You won’t be overwhelmed with the flashy style and color touch screen display of other models, but at nearly one fourth the cost of some more higher end options, this thermostat has a reputation for its temperature accuracy and remote access capabilities.