Heating and cooling systems have become increasingly energy efficient over the years. Manufacturers continue to boost the SEER ratings of their units and new technologies like variable speed air conditioning systems are helping homeowners save money and improve comfort.
You can leverage the energy efficiency capabilities of these HVAC solutions by integrating a smart thermostat—but not just any smart thermostat. According to Michael Cogbill, a 30-year home systems integrator and currently chief engineer at West Palm Beach, Fla.-based ETC, the following features will ensure a good fit between the thermostat and high-efficiency HVAC systems:
Smart Thermostat Features for Improved Energy Efficiency
Circulate Mode: This Fan mode joins “Auto” and “On” selections to ensure the fan runs at least 20 minutes every hour. This can smooth out the effects of short cycling on an AC compressor unit. Short cycling, which happens when an oversized system repeatedly runs in short bursts can decrease the life of an AC compressor by 30 percent, Cogbill says. The Circulate Mode found on some thermostats also balances energy savings with frequent air circulation that helps filter and clean the air.
Integration: Back in the day, the smartest thing a smart thermostat could do really well is run the HVAC on a customer-defined schedule. While this capability still exists, families rarely adhere to a rigid schedule, making integration with other system a more practical way to automate an HVAC system. Look for a thermostat that is integration-friendly and able to take its cues from a security system, door lock, plus geofencing. (Geofencing enables a thermostat to detect where you are based on the location of your smartphone, and alter its settings automatically.)
Special Settings: Once you have your smart thermostat set up, the last thing you want is one of your kids or houseguests to fiddle with it. A thermostat with lockout settings can ensure that your stat stays in its energy-efficiency mode. Lockout settings require a security code to change the setpoint or cool/heat mode.
Remote Sensors: Instead of peppering your house with multiple thermostats, you can use small, quarter-size sensors to read the room temperature and relay the information to thermostats hiding in an equipment room. These can go virtually untouched as you can monitor and manage the thermostats from an app on your smartphone or tablet.
Direct Internet Connection: To communicate remotely with some IoT thermostats requires passing signals through the cloud. Communication with some thermostats happens through the cloud, too, but with an option to connect directly to the stat—no cloud required. “Direct communication with a thermostat is less likely to be hacked than information that exists on the cloud,” Cogbill says.
Roots in the HVAC Industry: Buying a smart thermostat from a company with roots in the HVAC business often indicates that the stat has been engineered to work seamlessly with all types of heating and cooling units, ventilation systems, dehumidifiers, and air cleaners.
Our FREE comprehensive Smart Home Planning Guide helps you plan what features best suit your needs.
Want your shades lowered? Do it in seconds from a smartphone. Not sure if you locked the door when you left the house or left the garage door open? Again, it’s as easy as pressing a button on your smartphone.
Our FREE comprehensive Smart Home Planning Guide helps you plan what features best suit your needs.Get Your FREE Planning Guide Today!