Your cell phone is one of the most important devices that has evolved over the last five years. Not too long ago, cell phones were used to answer calls or text. Now, it’s a whole different ball game.
That mini-computer/phone can perform all sorts of tasks from supplying directions and playing music to controlling your home’s heating and cooling elements from afar.
This ability to control your house’s temperature is a convenience breakthrough. In an effort to save money during the colder months, many homeowners lower the temperature during the day because they are at work. In the evening, then the person has to increase the heat two-fold to warm up the house.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, using a programmable thermostat can reduce your energy bills by about 33 percent during one year.
While there are thermostats that can be pre-programmed, it is not a fool-proof method. The ability to change your home’s temperature at a moment’s notice is a technological convenience. Now a person can control a machine miles away, instead of being beholden to the machine.
Types of Thermostats
Most of the thermostats that offer smartphone capabilities can also be pre-programmed at home. With an Internet connection, a Wi-Fi-connected thermostat starts around $99.
- The Filtrete 7-Day Touchscreen Wi-Fi ($109) thermostat available at Home Depot also can hook up to the home’s HVAC system and allows homeowners to control it from a phone or computer. This thermostat uses the Wi-Fi-enabled thermostat app from Radio Thermostat CT-30.
- The Honeywell Wi-Fi Thermostat ($149) is a seven-day, programmable thermostat that is compatible with most home and commercial heating and cooling systems. It’s important to note, however, this requires a C-wire. Standard thermostats use a battery, whereas these types of thermostats require constant power since they are connected using Wi-Fi.
- The Nest Learning Thermostat ($250) contains a small computer that hooks up to the home network via Wi-Fi. What does that mean? It can actually automatically download updates as the company improves its product. And to add a little Space Odyssey into the mix, this thermostat “learns.” Each time the temperature is set or adjusted using a computer or a smartphone, the device tracks the temperature, humidity conditions, and time of day. Eventually, the thermostat develops a pattern and starts to make changes without you having to initiate them. Even better, it can tell if a person is in the room by maintaining the upper and lower limits set by previous adjustments for when people are present and when there is no one there.
There are Wi-Fi-enabled apps on the market for both iPhones and the Android market. The most popular free app is by Radio Thermostat Company of America. It is compatible with 3M Filtrete, Radio Thermostat, AirWaves, and Current Innovations Wi-Fi thermostats.
This app helps connect the thermostat to the Internet, where you can see the current indoor temperature and monitor your Target Temperature. If your house is not catching up to the temp set, you could push back the heat since you are not in the house, for example. Other features include changing modes (Heat, Cool, Auto, Off), adjusting the fan (On, Auto, Circulate), and controlling thermostats in different locations throughout the house.
Did You Know?
The efficiency and money-saving aspect of a programmable thermostat goes beyond the ease of smartphone use. Think about this example:
During the winter, a lot of families increase the heat because it’s colder at night and everyone is home. However, there is no need for the heat to blast all night since everyone is asleep and snuggled underneath warm blankets. If the temperature is bumped from 72 degrees during dinnertime to 65 degrees from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m., you could save 15 percent on your heating bill.
The same holds true during the summer months. Turn off the air-conditioning during the day and in the sleeping hours during the night since most people won’t notice a difference if they are already asleep.
Another interesting fact is researching the age of your current thermostat. An older knob or sliding thermostat can allow temperature variations of up to five degrees. The newer electronic thermostats that are programmable are accurate to within half a degree. Not only is that a big difference, it decreases the wear and tear on the furnace and air conditioner. The more accurate the temperature, the less the units need to turn on and off.