Smart Thermostats: What You Need to Know
Looking to upgrade to a smart thermostat in your home? With a variety of options to consider, it can be challenging to decide which model is right for you and your space. Watch as home maintenance experts The Handyguys discuss some common features of smart thermostats and what to look out for when purchasing this new technology.
BRIAN: Hey Paul, what do you have there? A programmable thermostat?
PAUL: Actually, Brian. This is a smart thermostat and these have some advantages over your old-fashioned programmable thermostats and, in fact, a lot of advantages and we’re going to talk about that.
PAUL: Hi and welcome to the Handyguys and we want to talk about this this new thing … it’s been around a couple years or so.
PAUL: But, there are several brands of smart thermostats and one of the things I really like about them, Brian, is that you don’t have to fiddle with some device and figure out how to program it every season.
PAUL: When the seasons change from hot to cold, you can pull out your smartphone and program these things or set them up with an app.
BRIAN: And some of them also, Paul, will have sensors so that you can put sensors in different rooms of your house so one thermostat is going to read the temperature in multiple locations. That’s a key feature that I like.
PAUL: Exactly, I have a sensor right here so you just place this in a room, say that room you use often, and you can program it if you will or set up when you’re smart app that whatever I’m in that room, set the
temperature for the house and a certain temperature so when you come home from work maybe and go into your family room to watch the news you can have it automatically change the temperature.
PAUL: The other cool thing, Brian, that I like is you can use voice assistance to set the temperature or change the temperature on these devices.
BRIAN: A lot of people have these home assistant speakers that you can talk to you can ask those speakers to adjust your temperature for you or some of them even have that technology built right into the thermostat.
PAUL: That’s right and, in addition, you know we talked about our smartphone but not only can I use it to set the device up to change it but remember if I have my smartphone I can use that when I’m away from the house.
PAUL: So, for instance, maybe I’m coming home from vacation and I’m an hour away I want to change settings on the air conditioning to cool the house before I get home. I can do that now through my smart app.
BRIAN: That’s right. So you can just go in there and say I’ll be home in an hour make sure it’s 70 degrees or whatever temperature you want.
PAUL: And, in fact, with the smart app I can tell it, hey, I’ll be on vacation during this week please turn down the air conditioning and automatically turn it up the day I get back.
BRIAN: With these remote sensors though they can tell or they can sense in the thermostat as well when you’re home and away but you can also force it to do that so instead of going into your app and saying I’ll be home in an hour you can set up what they call a geofence.
BRIAN: That’s a really geeky term but what it means is whenever you get within so many miles that you can predetermine from your home it’ll turn your heating or cooling on.
PAUL: Exactly, so with the old programmable thermostats you had to set a specific time to turn the heat up or down or the air conditioner up or down. Now you can set it, hey, you know maybe your commute isn’t at the same time every day but when you get within a distance of your house. OK now, you make the change.
BRIAN: That’s right.
PAUL: So, it can be ready for you.
PAUL: Alright, the other thing I really like about these is that you know at the end every month or every couple months, if you want, a lot of these products provide reporting on energy savings so you can
get an idea of how much savings you really get by changing the temperature up and down.
PAUL: And, in fact, they may even give you recommendations on certain changes you can make to improve upon that.
BRIAN: That’s a very cool feature, Paul, and it’s all web-based so you don’t need any special tools you can just open up a webpage and you’ll see all of your history right there.
PAUL: And, there’s a couple other cool features, Brian, these aren’t critical but I really like them.
PAUL: One is you have a great readout it’s just very simple. If you just want to make a simple change on this particular model, it’s easy to do and you know there’s no you know weird buttons or anything like that it’s very touch interface.
PAUL: The other thing, Brian, is you know this particular model you know if you’re walking by it you want to see what the weather is for today you can get the weather for today.
BRIAN: Very nice, very nice.
PAUL: So, those are cool little things. So, Brian, there are some disadvantages to a system like this and that is that it’s not just a simple old-fashioned thermostat. You actually have to connect it to your Wi-Fi you got to get it talking to your smartphone app so it takes a little bit of sophistication to get it up and running.
BRIAN: So, this might not be ideal for someone who’s not technically savvy.
PAUL: Perhaps, I mean it’s not terribly difficult but it could be a little bit of a challenge.
PAUL: The other thing is that it’s certainly going to be more expensive.
PAUL: Then, an old fashioned even some of the programmable thermostats is going to be cost more.
BRIAN: Sure and if you want to have moldable room sensors, each room sensor.
BRIAN: It’s going to be an additional cost.
BRIAN: And, that can add up.
PAUL: Yeah, they can get expensive.
PAUL: You may need some additional wiring to hook it up. You may have to consult a professional to determine if you have the proper wiring from your HVAC system to the thermostat itself.
BRIAN: That’s right.
BRIAN: And, it’s not going to work with like a pure electric system, for example, you’re going to need something different for that.
PAUL: OK, so the other thing is it connects to your Wi-Fi that’s how it talks to your smartphone app. That’s how you can make changes when you’re on vacation so there’s another system that you have to have in your house. I know most people or many people have Wi-Fi these days but still it’s reliant on that to work for your thermostat to work.
BRIAN: For all of your features, so if you don’t have Wi-Fi in your house just rule this out altogether I guess.
PAUL: Well, it’ll still work it’ll set your heat you know your air conditioning up and down but now it’s a traditional thermostat that costs more than the traditional thermostat. You want it talking to your Wi-Fi so you have all the other features.
BRIAN: Now, this is a little minicomputer isn’t it, Paul?
PAUL: Yes, it kind of is and as a result you’re going to want to make sure you set it up for periodic updates to guard against any kind of attacks or hacking and to help prevent that.
PAUL: So, set it so that it auto updates and, in fact, the software that comes with these is very good and they do actively updateD itself so that this thing is protected.
BRIAN: It stays current.
PAUL: Yeah, its secure.
PAUL: So, those are just some of the disadvantages, I’ve personally, obviously, I have it set up here I think that the advantages outweigh the disadvantages but it you know something you want
to consider when purchasing an item like this.
PAUL: So, there you have it these are smart thermostats big difference from your, you know, your father’s programmable thermostat or something like that.
BRIAN: We didn’t even have programming we just had a little brass-colored thing with a ring you turned it left and right.
PAUL: That’s right so these are cool so check them out and thanks for watching The Handyguys.