Central air conditioning is a necessity in many parts of the country. But air conditioning systems can also be costly when poorly managed and maintained.
Wi-Fi enabled thermostats – also known as ‘smart thermostats’ – are a new gadget on the market to help homeowners manage their central air conditioning and energy costs.
Thermostats: The Basics
Simply put, a thermostat is an instrument that measures and regulates the temperature in your home. They are connected to your air conditioning, heating, or HVAC unit, and can be set to a specific temperature – adjusting heat or cooling to maintain that temperature.
A non-programmable thermostat requires the user’s manual input to regulate the temperature. In other words, it will maintain the same temperature until you change the setting yourself. These models are not very common anymore and are not as precise as their programmable counterparts.
Programmable thermostats, on the other hand, can change their temperature setting automatically, as per a pre-determined schedule. So, for example, you may want the cooling system to work harder during the day than at night. Or you may want to adjust your temperature settings for the season, or switch off the system when you’re not at home. These models offer flexibility and convenience, and can help to keep energy costs down. Although, most thermostats these days are able to “read” the temperature in your home and automatically adjust – no need to lower the temperature when it gets hotter inside anymore!
What are Wi-Fi Enabled Thermostats?
Wi-Fi thermostats are part of the growing ‘smart home’ revolution. Essentially, they are programmable thermostats that can connect to the internet, giving you even more convenience and control in regulating your home environment.
So you can now connect to your thermostat remotely (via an app on your tablet or smartphone). But what’s the big deal, and are they really necessary?
Connecting to your thermostat remotely means you can adjust the temperature when you’re not even there. So, for instance, you can access the thermostat and get it to cool your house before you even get home.
But a regular programmable thermostat can do the same thing with a schedule. Does the Wi-Fi thermostat offer anything else? Say you miss a flight home after a vacation or business trip. You can access your Wi-Fi thermostat and change the predetermined schedule to save energy costs until you get back.
Many of these ‘smart thermostats’ can also give you more accurate and detailed information about your air conditioning and energy habits, allowing you to tweak your settings for optimized usage.
Some models are so advanced that they can even ‘learn’ from your patterns of behavior. Some smart thermostats can sense changes in humidity, if someone is using the oven, or even if there are people at home. Advanced models will then automatically create their own schedule (essentially programming themselves) according to your habits and needs.
At this time, Wi-Fi enabled thermostats are still relatively new to the market, and thus expensive. Ideally, they will ‘pay for themselves’ in the long term by saving your energy bill. But are they really necessary for the average household?
We think this all depends on your home set-up, and your air conditioning needs. If you live in a small home or apartment where your HVAC energy-use has already been optimized, then a smart thermostat may not make all that much difference. But if you have a larger home and want more control over your air conditioning, the smart thermostat will be worth it.
If you’re considering going the ‘smart’ route and getting a Wi-Fi enabled thermostat, contact us first for a consultation.
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