Technology touches every aspect of our lives. Now more than ever we are also seeing technology enter our homes with the emergence and advancements of smart home capabilities. One of the areas seeing impressive state-of-the-art technology is home comfort. The introduction of smart thermostats is changing the way we both keep our homes comfortable and save energy. If you are considering the advantages of smart home comfort systems, here is your complete guide to smart thermostats.
What is a Smart Thermostat and How Do They Work?
A smart thermostat uses smart home technology to automate the management of your heating and cooling system. The thermostat can be programmed via a central control panel in your home or from your smart device. Most are compatible with smart home speakers so you can use voice activation to operate them. You can also make adjustments, and track and manage your smart thermostat remotely from your mobile phone. Some of the features of smart thermostats include:
- Auto scheduling to optimize ideal, energy-efficient temperatures in your home throughout the day and evening
- Tracking of energy usage
- Weather monitoring allowing the thermostat to adjust temperatures if temperatures outside drop or rise unexpectedly
- Remote operation
- Smart home technology compatibility
So how do smart thermostats work? The systems work using your smart devices in hand with a central control panel. They are designed to provide efficient heating and cooling in hand with user-friendly interfaces with advanced features. This provides you with complete control over your home’s energy use using your personal preferences and schedule to obtain optimum temperatures.
Working in hand with your HVAC system the thermostat’s main control works with an app used on your device of choice. More advanced systems use AI to help prepare your home for comfort based on your past preferences and can adjust accordingly. Systems also use sensors to detect temperatures, as well as movement to adjust for rooms in use or when empty. Smart thermostat requirements vary based on the make and model but can include:
- Wi-Fi connection
- Compatible mobile app
- Smart device
- A smart thermostat that works with iPhone/Alexa/Google home or other devices such as Apple HomeKit, Microsoft Cortana, Samsung SmartThings, Logitech Harmony, or Wink
Therefore when choosing your smart thermostat, be sure you understand your current devices, so you choose one that is compatible.
Smart Thermostat Facts & Myths
As with any relatively new technology, you can find there is some misleading information circling around the internet. This can make it difficult to decide if a smart thermostat is right for you. Here are some common facts and myths to help clear up any misconceptions you might have:
Myth: Smart Thermostats Don’t Need Wi-Fi
Do smart thermostats require Wi-Fi? Yes, they do. Smart thermostats are controlled using Wi-Fi and use programmable intelligence that can learn to adjust your home temperature based on either a schedule or your preferences using past behaviour. That being said, you can still get basic heating and cooling functions without Wi-Fi present.
Myth: Smart Thermostats are Too Expensive
Are smart thermostats worth the cost? Yes, they are. Smart thermostats can save you money by monitoring and controlling temperatures. They adjust settings with or without you, which in turn can save you as much as 25% on utility bills. For a very reasonable investment upfront, you can easily see your savings pay off in a few years.
Myth: Smart Thermostats Don’t Save That Much Energy
How efficient are smart thermostats? Very. According to a leading smart thermostat brand, ecobee, the average customer saved up to 26% on their heating and cooling costs.
Fact: Easy Install Smart Thermostat
Manufacturers make it easy to install smart thermostats with detailed guides that walk you through the steps. You can then find step-by-step instructions to help set up devices so you can use control your smart thermostat from home or when away.
Do you have questions about smart thermostats? Our experts in Pickering, Ajax, Whitby, Bowmanville, Oshawa, and the surrounding areas at Advantage Airtech ClimateCare would be happy to answer. Contact us today.
Installing a Smart Thermostat
As mentioned above smart thermostat installation is easier than you think. You certainly can have a technician do the installment and set it up for you if you would like. When it comes to who can install a smart thermostat, if you are technically inclined and have the right tools you can follow these steps to complete your smart thermostat installation:
- Switch Off Power
Make sure the power is turned off to your existing thermostat, as well as your HVAC system at the main service panel. Your circuit breaker hopefully has labels, so you know which switch to flick. Keep in mind thermostats should not be installed on circuits exceeding manufacturer-specified voltage as this will damage the controls, increase the risk for shock and also pose a possible fire hazard.
- Remove the Old Thermostat
Use a screwdriver to remove the cover plate and then you will be able to remove the thermostat itself. Before removing the thermostat, label the wires so you know which terminal they connect to. Then remove the mounting screws.
- Disconnect the Wires
The terminal will be hanging from the wires, which can now be safely disconnected. Tape the wires to the wall to keep them out of the way and avoid them from falling into the wall.
- Check for a C-Wire
The C-wire is needed to provide power to the thermostat, so you don’t have to turn off the cooling or fan. Sometimes there might be a C-wire tucked behind the plate or wall. You can check your HVAC control board where you’ll be able to see a wire connected to the C terminal if you do have a C-wire already. If it doesn’t appear you have one, you can consider using an “add-a-wire” kit or a power extender kit which often comes with your smart thermostat. If not, you might want to consider calling an HVAC technician to assist.
- Install the Smart Thermostat
If you have the C-wire, you can follow the manufacturer’s instructions to make sure nothing is missed. However, in general, you’ll need to follow these steps:
- Separate the front and base of the new thermostat
- Thread the low-voltage wires through the openings of the base
- Make sure the thermostat is level (many are actually self-levelling)
- Mount the thermostat base on the wall
- Connect the low-voltage wires to the matching screw terminals
- If it seems the connections don’t match check your owner’s manual
- Tighten any loose wire connections
- Install the battery in the thermostat body for models with batteries
- Mount Your Thermostat
Push the excess wires gently into the wall and mount the thermostat base. Mount the control unit to the base and make sure the screws are tight.
You can now turn on your power and press the reset button to clear the program memory.
- Wi-Fi Thermostat Installation Programming
Once everything is installed and appears to be in working order, you can program your Wi-Fi and synch everything. These steps depend on the devices you are using. For ecobee you can follow these steps:
Make sure all the ecobee devices you wish to synch are assigned names following these steps:
- Access the thermostat screen
- Go to MAIN MENU
- Choose SETTINGS then PREFERENCES
- Tap “Thermostat Name”
If you are assigning a to a Switch+ follow these steps:
- Open the ecobee app
- Select your Switch+ from the My Devices list
- Tap the Main Menu icon in the bottom left
- Tap “Device Info” and then “Device Name”
Next, choose the speaker or device you want to connect below and follow the steps to connect your devices.
Google Home Speaker
- Open the “Google Home” app
- Tap the “ADD” icon, “SET UP DEVICE” and then “Works With Google”
- Tap the magnifying glass icon on the Manage Accounts menu and type in “ecobee” and then tap the “ecobee” icon
- Login using your ecobee credentials when you are prompted to link your Google account with your ecobee account
- Open the Google Assistant app and tap the “EXPLORE” icon
- Tap the magnifying glass icon and type in “ecobee”
- Tap the “ecobee” icon, then “SET UP”
- Login with your ecobee credentials when prompted to link your Google account with your ecobee account.
- Google Assistant will then integrate your ecobee connections, switches, sensors, lights and thermostat
- Open the Alexa app and tap the top left Menu icon
- Tap SKILLS & GAMES, then the magnifying glass icon and type in “ecobee”
- Tap ecobee from the list of skills and then tap ENABLE
- Say “Alexa, discover devices” once the skill is enabled
If you don’t feel comfortable going through all these steps, you can hire a technician to provide installation services for you.
As you can see, a smart thermostat is an excellent choice for any homeowner wanting to improve home comfort and reduce energy. With potential energy savings of as much as 26% you help cover the costs of the initial investment. You can then manage home comfort so you never waste energy when you aren’t home, or in rooms that aren’t in use. Wi-Fi-enabled smart thermostats make it easy to adjust temperatures from anywhere.
Thinking about adding a smart thermostat in your home? At Advantage Airtech ClimateCare, we can help you in Pickering, Ajax, Whitby, Bowmanville, Oshawa, and the surrounding areas. . Give our team a call today.