Right here on the Best Buy Canada Blog, we’ve recently been taking a close look at various ways that you can expand your smart home system to take advantage of the many convenient features and energy saving possibilities that a modern smart home affords. Well, today is no exception—this time we’re looking at smart heating for energy savings and its many other benefits. What does that mean? Smart Thermostats!
Throughout the remainder of this article we’ll outline exactly what smart thermostats are, discuss several of their many features and benefits, and hopefully inspire you to consider whether or not a smart heating system might just be beneficial to you and yours. If any part of that sounds good to you, read on for full details!
What Is Smart Heating?
Smart heating is where home automation meets your home’s standard heating and cooling system in the form of a smart thermostat. We all know what a standard thermostat is and what it does, and smart thermostats are basically the same—only much better!
This is because smart thermostats do a variety of cool things that regular thermostats just can’t do, leading not only to the enjoyment of many great conveniences amongst users, but also to the potential for major energy cost savings.
In fact, some studies have suggested that heating and cooling may account for as much as 50% of a home’s annual energy costs, meaning that there’s considerable room for the savings to add up!
On the convenience side of the ledger are benefits like the ability to control your heating and cooling remotely (via app), compatibility with the major smart voice assistants (like Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa), and even integration with other smart home products and ecosystems (such as the popular and intuitive Works with Nest).
Let us now consider a number of these key features in greater detail.
Smart Thermostat Features & Benefits
When it comes to smart thermostats, there’s no shortage of amazing features to look for. The first thing you need to know, however, is that not all thermostats are created equally, and not all thermostats will offer exactly the same features.
For this reason, doing some research before making your ultimate decision is a must! With that thought in mind, some of the key features to look for in your future smart thermostat are as follows:
- Easy Installation – Many smart thermostats today are noted for their ease of installation. In fact, Nest claims that it’s Wi-Fi Smart Learning Thermostat 3rd Generation (shown below) is as easy to install as a typical light fixture, taking just 30 minutes to get up and running.
- Programmability – Smart thermostats are also fully programmable. This includes programming for things like when they will run, what temperatures they will run at, and even under what conditions they will operate. In fact, thermostats such as the Nest unit (mentioned above) are able to program themselves (more on that later)!
- App-Based Control – One of the hallmarks of smart home technology—and smart heating is no exception, is app-based control. This means that if you have a compatible Android or iOS based smart phone, you’re going to be able to control your smart thermostat via a special, dedicated app that you can freely download and use. App control also provides remote monitoring of your system when you’re away from home, the ability to track your thermostat’s energy usage (including providing graphic visualization of your energy consumption in the form of graphs, charts, and other useful information, rather than just raw data), and a whole lot more besides!
- Voice Control – If you have one of the popular smart voice assistants mentioned earlier, you’ll be able to verbally tell your thermostat what to do. For instance, you might say something (to your Google Home unit) along the lines of “Hey Google, set the heat to 66 degrees” (or something similar), and your wish is your voice assistant’s command.
- The “Weather Aware” Feature – Some smart thermostats have the ability to monitor your local weather forecast and conditions via the Internet and adjust the temperature accordingly. Nest calls this feature Weather Aware, and it not only has the potential to save you big bucks on your home heating bill (by automatically adjusting your temperature down when the weather warms up), but it could also help you to avoid disaster. Consider, for instance, a scenario in which your water pipes could freeze and burst while you are away on vacation. A feature like Weather Aware is able to crank your heat to an appropriate temperature to prevent this disaster from happening without your ever even having to know that you narrowly avoided catastrophe. What’s more, if your thermostat is monitoring the weather and temperatures and adjusting itself accordingly, that’s one less thing that you have to worry about!
- Compatibility with Other Smart Products & Ecosystems – I mentioned earlier that a frequent feature of smart thermostats is the ability to work with broader smart home ecosystems such as Works with Nest. The implications of such a system are far greater than I can adequately explain in a simple paragraph, but just know that when your smart home devices are capable of talking to each other, the possibilities for how you and your family can benefit are endless. Just one such example is when your Nest Protect Wi-Fi Smoke & Carbon Monoxide Alarm (shown above) detects either of the issues it’s looking for and then has the ability both to warn you through your other smart devices (for instance, flashing your smart lights) and to take action (such as shutting down your smart thermostat in the case of a carbon monoxide leak). And these two examples only scratch the surface of what these smart devices and ecosystems can do.
- Smart Learning Capabilities – Remember when I said that there would be more on ‘programmability’ later? Well, this is it. Many of today’s top smart thermostats actually have the ability to learn your home heating and cooling preferences over time simply by monitoring your use of the system and learning your regular usage habits and preferences. These devices actually anticipate your needs, thus creating the huge potential for ongoing energy cost savings simply by making regular temperature adjustments for you. It is claimed that you can achieve up to 20% cost savings on your home heating bills due to these intuitive systems.
Once again, the features discussed here are not necessarily present in every smart thermostat you can buy, so doing your research is a must. Equally, these features also do not constitute a complete and comprehensive listing of all the excellent features of the modern smart thermostat. Again, research is your friend!
Choosing Your Brand and Model
When it comes to choosing your own smart thermostat, there’s certainly a lot to consider. For one thing, there are several different products available for you to choose from, including models from some of the biggest brands in the space—Nest, Honeywell, Lux and Sinopé.
Second, choosing which brand and model are right for you is not a decision to be made in isolation. After all, you’ve got to think about your broader smart home system and which model(s) might be compatible with the other smart home products you have or intend to acquire.
This is not really something to lose any sleep over however, as compatibility has become all but ubiquitous amongst the major smart home players. Still, a little bit of research really goes a long way, and you do want to make the optimal decision in the end.
My advice? I cannot overstate this—do lots of research! There are numerous articles that could help you avoid mistakes right here on the blog, and there’s plenty of other information available through Best Buy Canada’s website. With a little time and effort, you too can enjoy all the amazing benefits of smart heating come Fall, 2019.