What is SMART technology?
In today’s era of modern and forever evolving technology, it’s likely you’ve come across the term “smart” in reference to a piece of new tech. Standing for “Self-Monitoring Analysis and Reporting Technology”, smart equipment has the capacity to make use of advanced technologies like the internet and AI, to offer the consumer much more control and interaction with said piece of equipment.
What is a Smart Thermostat?
Smart thermostats are responsible for controlling a home’s heating, ventilation and air conditioning system. What makes this smart device so great is its ability to learn your behaviour over time, automatically adjusting elements such as the temperature in your household to match your habits and needs.
A Smart Thermostat can create automatic and programmable temperature settings based on a resident’s:
- Daily schedule.
- Weather conditions.
- Heating and cooling needs.
What are the benefits of using a Smart Thermostat compared to a manual thermostat?
- A smart thermostat is able to learn your household’s patterns and adjust the temperature accordingly. For example, your smart thermostat can reduce your heating and cooling systems for when nobody is home during large periods of time.
- Where human error can lead to incorrect programming of a thermostat, and thus no real savings on energy, a smart thermostat can save you money on heating and cooling when you’re not at home.
- A smart thermostat can be installed in as quickly as 2 hours.
Are there any considerations to make when switching to smart thermostat?
- Smart thermostats usually require a ‘C-wire’ to power its features. Many newer homes have a C-wire, but some older houses do not. Therefore, you would have to check with your smart thermostat installer before making the switch to a smart thermostat.
- WiFi access: While you don’t need WiFi for a smart thermostat to work, functionality will be limited to basic heating and cooling control without it. With a WiFi connection, your smart thermostat can begin to collect, store and analyse its readings. These readings can be transmitted to the user’s phones or any compatible electronic device. Histories of temperature readings and usage throughout the day can be observed, helping the user get a greater understanding of their energy consumption.
- Access to a smart phone/device: Similar to the first point, the user will need access to a smart electronic device to maximise usage of the smart thermostat.
How easy is it to use a smart thermostat?
Using a smart thermostat isn’t rocket science, we promise! However, your newly installed smart thermostat will require manual manipulations for the first week or so.
Once the thermostat is adjusted to the resident’s comfort levels and requirements (normally adjusted when waking, leaving the house, re-entering the house, and heading to bed), the thermostat learns these preferences and makes these adjustments without human intervention.
The pros of installing a Smart Thermostat:
- Less energy usage around the home, meaning lower energy bills.
- Reduction in carbon footprint due to less energy consumption.
- Smart thermostats learn your daily routine, so no need to remember to programme it to your needs, or even switch it on or off.
- Modern, small and sleek designs enable a smart thermostat to blend into your home with ease.
- Most offer global connectivity, meaning you can adjust the settings of your smart thermostat from almost anywhere!
- Smart Thermostats can link with other SMART home devices, including smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.
The cons of installing a Smart Thermostat:
- In some instances, a smart thermostat may not be feasible, especially if you work from home. With someone always in the home, the temperature may not want to be adjusted throughout the day.
- Smart thermostats are priced higher than manual thermostats and some may require a professional to install. Depending on the make and model you go for, smart thermostats typically cost anywhere between £150 and £280 while installation can cost a further £50 to £100.
- For the less tech savvy, it may take a little while to learn the smart thermostat software and touchscreen display.
However don’t let these drawbacks put you off from installing a smart thermostat. With the right research and advice from the energy professionals here at Deege Solar, there will always be an option catered to your needs.
What Else Do Smart Thermostats Work With?
Smart thermometers can sync with other smart devices in your household to both maximise overall usage of these devices and ensure your safety. Find below some examples:
- A smart thermostat is capable of connecting with heat and carbon monoxide detectors in your home. Where extreme heat is detected (from a fire, for instance), your smart thermostat can turn off the heating in your home to help hinder the spread of flames.
- Most smart thermostats are compatible with heat pumps (a versatile device that provides efficient and constant two-way climate control in your home).
- Some smart thermostats do work with boilers, with compatibility much higher the newer your boiler unit is.
- Many new smart thermostats also support voice commands through the Amazon Alexa, Apple Siri, and Google’s Assistant voice commands. Meaning you can change the temperature of your home using just a simple voice command.
The Best Smart Thermostats: All You Need to Know
With the first “smart” thermostat introduced to the world in 2007 by company Ecobee (developed by Stuart Lombard), smart thermostats have continued to evolve over the years. Read on for more information on the top smart thermostats available on today’s market.
Netatmo Smart Thermostat
From the French company that changed the game for home weather stations, Netatmo now offers a relatively affordable smart thermostat at around £125. With everything controlled via its free Android and iOS apps, here are the pros and cons of this device:
- Compatible with gas, oil, wood boilers and heat pumps.
- Wireless system and able to connect to WiFi.
- A cheaper option.
- User-friendly software and touch display.
- Could save its users about 37% in energy costs.
- Somewhat old-fashioned design (but comes in a choice of four colours).
- Fewer features compared to other smart thermostats, such as the Nest.
- Sensors only for temperature.
Nest Thermostat E:
Labelled a “brilliantly stylish, capable and affordable smart thermostat” by tech news and review site T3, the Nest smart thermostat by Google has an array of impressive specifications with minimal drawbacks:
- Sends users a monthly smart energy report.
- Compatible with both Google Assistant and Alexa.
- Sensors for temperature, humidity, near-field activity, far-field activity and ambient light.
- Bluetooth Low Energy connectivity.
- Is one of the most connected of smart thermostats.
- Sleek, white design.
- UK customers can save anywhere between 8.4% and 16.5% with a Nest device.
- Higher initial investment compared to other smart thermostats.
Tado Smart Thermostat
A more minimalist but effective approach to smart thermostat technology, the Tado smart thermostat is now on its third generation. With no real negatives, here are some key details about the Tado v3 thermostat:
- Massively compatible: the Tado is able to connect with 95% of boilers on the market and works with almost everything from combi boilers to heated floors.
- Can be installed in an hour’s time without the help of a professional.
- Has a geofencing feature, meaning this device connects with your phone’s location to know when you’re in close range of your house.
- Compatibility with all three major smart assistants.
- Valves also have a display.
- Sensors for temperature, humidity and ambient light.
- The mechanical noise of the valve may wake sleeping residents (you just need to get used to the sound!).
Honeywell Smart Thermostat
Honeywell offers a range of smart thermostat systems for your home. With the Lyric models newer and more advanced than the older and simpler Honeywell Home models, individuals can overall expect a relatively compatible and easy-to-use system from this company.
- All models have WiFi connectivity.
- Able to use geolocation or a range of programmable modes to configure the heating.
- As Geofencing technology knows when the property is empty, you’ll never be wasting energy heating an empty home.
- Learns as it goes.
- Can support a number of heating systems.
- IFTTT and Alexa integration with newer models.
- Can be used for individual rooms and zone control.
- Requires professional installation (but is easy to use once set up).
- These thermostats range from around £150-200, placing these devices on the less affordable side of smart thermostats.
- Sensors for temperature only.
- Less classy design compared to other home smart thermostats.
Ecobeee Smart Thermostat
This Alexa-enabled smart thermostat by Ecobee (the newest being the Ecobee5) is ranked amongst the best smart thermostats available on the market. Here’s why:
- Includes a range of Alexa built-in features meaning it can alert you of drop-ins, calls and other announcements.
- Comes with a speaker so you can play your tunes around the house.
- Has smart sensors that support a greater battery life.
- Works with all major assistants including Google Assistant and HomeKit.
- Sensors for temperature, humidity, occupancy and proximity.
- Compatible with gas, electric, oil and dual fuel.
- The Ecobee is mostly marketed for US and Canadian markets, meaning getting hold of one as a UK resident may be more difficult compared to other smart thermostats.
- When not on sale, the Ecobee5 can reach prices over £200.
Hive Heating Control smart thermostat
Developed by British Gas, these smart thermostat systems are available to any interested resident. Read on for the pros and cons of this modern and minimalist piece of smart tech:
- According to Hive, a smart thermometer can save residents anywhere up to £130 per year (particularly if you previously set your heating to maintain a constant temperature throughout the day).
- Connects via WiFi and Zigbee.
- Available in 12 different colours.
- Compatible with most gas, oil and electric boilers.
- Very user-friendly and expandable (Hive has released a range of compatible products including sensors and plugs).
- Compatible with Alexa and Google Assistant.
- A drawback for some, this smart thermostat requires mounting to a wall.
So, are smart thermostats worth it?
Overall, a smart thermostat can provide its users with a level of interaction and control over the home that trumps that of any manual thermostat. With additional features incorporated in (or compatible with) most smart thermostats that can provide perks such as elevated safety in the home, music connectivity and of course, savings on energy bills. There are very few reasons why a smart thermostat may not be for you. Here at Deege Solar we install a variety of Smart Devices, including smart thermostats! They are a great additional device to help maximise your energy savings.