Whether or not you’ve ever considered upgrading to a smart thermostat, you’re probably aware of what’s sometimes referred to as a Wi-Fi thermostat. Smart thermostats have been around for years, and their benefits have steadily increased, from smart thermostat Wi-Fi and remote operation to communication with smart appliances and more. If you have a smart home, you almost certainly already have a smart thermostat, but how do Wi-Fi thermostats work, and what’s the point in even having what some might call a home digital thermostat? Let us count the ways.
Energy and cost savings
Herein lies perhaps the greatest benefit of a smart thermostat (sometimes called a programmable thermostat): It can be set to run when you need it and to not run when you don’t. This way, you use less energy and spend less money to heat and cool your home. It’s as simple as that. Individual experiences will vary, but it’s safe to say that you could save between 10% and 25% on heating and cooling costs alone once you upgrade. A more efficient smart thermostat creates a record of how energy is used throughout the home, which can help you obtain even greater levels of efficiency, thus saving money as your utility bill lowers accordingly.
Ease of use
Ever tire of turning your temperature setting up and down every day and night? It might not take much effort, but what if you didn’t have to do it anymore because your smart thermostat just “knew” when it was time to make a temperature adjustment year-round? Wouldn’t that be nice? It’s a standard feature. Also, many smart thermostats can tell when you’re home and moving around, thereby informing themselves about your level of activity and aligning this data with what they already know about the season and your prior heating and cooling patterns. Thus, a smart thermostat can decide when it might need to adjust the temperature accordingly. Some even monitor local weather reports, adjusting ahead of time to account for heat waves or cold spells before they arrive.
In-house or remote control
Most smart thermostats are easy to read and pleasant to look at, with simple user interfaces that make sense intuitively like the best mobile devices — a growing number of which your new smart thermostat is compatible with. This means you can connect to other related smart devices, like air purifiers, dehumidifiers or space heaters. With a smart thermostat, you can use your smartphone and other devices (even voice commands) to adjust your HVAC system. Going on vacation, but forgot to turn down the air? Make adjustments remotely from anywhere on the fly, creating your own heating and cooling schedules right from a handy smartphone app that allows for temperature management in as much detail as you prefer. Wondering about how your second home feels before you arrive for that vacation? With another smart thermostat, you can monitor and adjust that too.
Learning and scheduling
With its array of onboard sensors, a smart thermostat takes note of high-traffic, high-activity times within the home, correlating and comparing them with low-traffic, low-activity times, and aligning them with your preferences for temperatures at certain times of day. The more data it receives, both from your initial input and its ongoing monitoring of your household routine, the more a smart thermostat learns about how to optimize temperature adjustments while maximizing energy efficiency 24/7. Once the smart thermostat learns your routines, it can adjust on the fly when routines are broken, updating its own scheduling with adaptations.
You can also enter your own scheduling plans if you know you’ll be away, or if you’re planning on having elderly guests who require a different set of temperatures, for example. All this data, along with information about the size of the home, your HVAC system details, the climate of your region, and any other heating and cooling equipment used in the home, feeds into a smart thermostat to help it build an energy profile. This profile, constantly updated and adjusted according to your needs by the learning thermostat, helps you get more out of your heating and cooling dollars.
Ease of installation
If you have the necessary wiring in place, removing your old thermostat and installing a newer, smarter model should be fairly easy. Begin by turning off the power to your thermostat at the breaker box, then carefully remove the old thermostat’s cover and examine the wiring. It may be helpful to use a headlamp at this stage so you can see the interior of the device with adequate lighting. At this point, you’re looking for a wire labeled C for common. If you find this wire, as well as others marked R, W, Rc or Rh, you have what you need for installation without having to call an electrician. Take your time to be sure that each wire is carefully disconnected from the old device and firmly reattached in place on the back of your new smart thermostat.
If there’s a significant variation in size between the old and new units, you may need to do a little drywall repair and repainting to refinish a hole, if it extends beyond the edges of the new unit. After you’ve determined that the wall is in good shape and once you have every wire in place, you can install the faceplate on the wall, which might require drywall anchors and screws. The new device should snap into place and look great. Now you can restore power to your circuit, power on your new device, and follow the manufacturer’s instructions to enjoy a new era of comfort, efficiency, cost savings and control over your home’s heating and cooling.
We hope this post on the benefits of smart thermostats was helpful. If you’re interested in reading more, we have several related and informative posts, including one on programmable thermostats, a survey on the rise of smart homes, considerations on whether you should choose smart appliances and how to keep them secure, plus answers to your questions on whether home warranties cover HVAC systems. Thanks for stopping by!
The information in this article is intended to provide guidance on the proper maintenance and care of systems and appliances in the home. Not all of the topics mentioned are covered by our home warranty or maintenance plans. Please review your home warranty contract carefully to understand your coverage.