Until about a decade or so ago, the pace of technology advancement for household life was mostly focused on personal computing and internet connectivity. When compared to the rapid rise of lifestyle technology that American households experienced after World War II, things were pretty slow until touchscreen technology and home Wi-Fi networks became standard in smartphones and tablets. It was around this time when sophisticated sensors and advanced device connectivity components started becoming more mainstream, and they set the stage for smart home automation.
Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems are among the most benefited by smart home automation. Smart thermostats, for example, have made a considerable leap from the timer mechanisms they used to feature to the multi-functionality they provide these days. One of the areas that homeowners struggle the most with is ensuring that the indoor air quality in their home is the best it can be at all times, and this is an example of the many advantages offered by some HVAC systems these days.
We are living in a time when home appliances such as the Samsung Family Hub refrigerators are able to detect if you are running low on fresh milk why you happen to be out of the house. The Family Hub will not only send you a smartphone notification of this matter; it will also send you a photo of the refrigerated compartments and shelves so that you can pick up other groceries on your way back home. While today’s smart home gadgets tend to focus on comfort, efficiency, and security, smart home automation has a good chance of becoming an even more crucial part of our households in the future; it will certainly be interesting to see if we see similar home automation breakthroughs for more lifestyle functions as technology continues to advance.
The Importance of HVAC Systems Automation
Most Americans can’t tell you much about their HVAC systems except for the fact that they are the primary source of energy consumption in their homes. For this reason alone, a properly functioning HVAC system in your home is critical, and this is a major driver of innovation in terms of smart home automation.
The Natural Resources Defense Council estimates that if all households in the United States would turn to smart home automation for the purpose of managing their HVAC systems, the collective savings would add up to $3 trillion over the span of a decade.
What’s the best thing you can do for your energy bill? Without a doubt, upgrading your HVAC system so that it can be controlled by a smart thermostat might be the most cost-effective energy improvement you can make. This improvement is probably the most overlooked among homeowners who are interested in smart home automation solutions; it should really be the first upgrade even if your budget only permits retrofitting a smart thermostat instead of installing an entirely new HVAC system. The most rudimentary timer in your thermostat is better than running the air conditioning unit at the same temperature all day.
Now that we have gotten the energy savings aspect out of the way, let’s look at four other aspects of smart HVAC systems that should convince you to invest in one:
- Improved indoor air quality.
- More efficient functionality, which translates into less maintenance and longer lifespan of HVAC systems.
- Accurate temperature readings and settings.
- Remote operation from mobile devices through the Internet of Things (IoT).
Understanding Smart Thermostats
Here’s a brief look at how thermostat technology has progressed through the ages:
- Analog thermostats were marketed as being reliable, but we can safely say that they were not; they were pretty much the only way to provide somewhat accurate temperature readings as long as their mechanisms held up.
- Digital thermostats had the advantage of more accurate sensors and actuator components that did not degrade with time. Unlike their analog counterparts, digital thermostats simply stopped working after quite a few years instead of failing gradually.
- Programmable thermostats were not exactly smart, but they introduced homeowners to the concept of reading weather forecasts and regulating the efficient operation of their air conditioners. During a hot and humid Delaware summer, for example, the five-day work week programming option allowed homeowners to set turn on the compressor at a certain temperature in order to begin cooling the home a couple of hours before household members returned from school or work.
- Smart thermostats that connect to the internet via home Wi-Fi networks will automatically regulate HVAC systems according to weather forecasts and real-time changes in ambient temperature. Moreover, these components also connect to the IoT so that you can control them from afar through a smartphone, tablet, or web portal on a desktop computer.
Modern HVAC systems controlled by smart thermostats will give you an automatic 20% savings on your monthly energy bill. There is a chance you can increase these savings with special configurations you can enter according to what happens in the household.
The Best Smart Thermostat for Your HVAC System
If we think about the most basic smart thermostat currently on the market, it would still provide greater functionality than the controllers that mostly allowed HVAC systems to run on timers. At their most basic, smart thermostats connect to air conditioning units, heat pumps, furnaces, or boilers through connectors and adapters. The signals exchanged between HVAC components and thermostats are not very sophisticated, which means that older systems can be retrofitted and upgraded with some smart thermostats.
The control unit within the smart thermostat can be programmed and operated through various software options. The commands can be interpreted according to readings obtained by sensors, weather forecasts, and remote wireless communications. Finally, the processing units of smart thermostats operate based on software instructions, which in some cases allow connections to smart automation hubs and can even learn how to improve indoor air quality as well as temperature control on their own.
The best smart thermostats will offer all of the aforementioned features. There are no particular criteria by which to judge a thermostat. Therefore, consumers should simply determine what they are looking for when buying one. Many consider temperature control accuracy and ease of use among the best features, so look for a thermostat that can accurately display indoor and outdoor temperatures and offers simple and intuitive user interfaces. The control units of smart thermostats are becoming less important and are being phased out. Therefore, the actual device that performs the control, the thermostat itself, is becoming more and more important. The thermostat needs to operate seamlessly and be able to offer the best features possible.
If you are in need of a new HVAC system, it makes sense to control it with an advanced thermostat that can connect to a smart home automation hub such as the ones offered by the likes of Google and Amazon. A smart hub is not mandatory; many homeowners decide that the only smart home automation device that conforms to their lifestyles is an IoT thermostat that they can control through smartphone apps. These same homeowners later start thinking about installing a smart home network because they want to take advantage of their broadband internet connection and Wi-Fi network; when this happens, it is pretty easy to integrate the smart thermostat.
In the end, we can safely say that smart thermostats are worth every penny, particularly when they are part of a smart home automation network that includes lighting, door locks, security cameras, alarms, fire prevention systems, and other IoT devices. Think about it: You can change the temperature of rooms based on who’s at home, check out the inside of your home, lock doors when you leave, automate appliances like your HVAC system, and more. There’s a ton of uses for smart home technology, and if you can afford it, you should really go for it.