The Thermostats Of The Future
It’s funny, there are some technologies everyone wants the latest of as soon as there is a latest to be had. We preorder and stand in line for new smartphones, even when the new one will only be a little better than the current one. But while all that’s been going on, more mundane but equally important technologies have been developed. You might be surprised what kind of thermostat you can get now.
In most houses, digital thermostats have replaced the old analog ones, but now even the digitals are becoming obsolete thanks to smart thermostats. The single key advance of smart thermostats is their network capabilities, but they also include a plethora of new options and settings.
Smart thermostats can connect to your smartphone or an Amazon Alexa so that you can control the temperate from anywhere you have a signal. You can also program a heating/air conditioning schedule remotely, so that your system saves power when the house is empty, and then comes back on at a time of your choosing – say, a half hour before the first person gets home. The last generation of thermostats could also be programmed, but only in person. With WiFi, forgetting to set it when you leave in the morning just means you can program it from wherever you are.
And since you don’t have to heat or cool an empty house, you might save as much as 12% on heating and 15% on cooling expenses. At that rate, the savings can pay for the new thermostat in only two years, and the environmental benefit of greater efficiency can’t be easily priced.
Let’s look at some of the leading new models of the last couple of years.
These four thermostats are a fair representation of what’s cutting edge now
- The Nest T3007ES. A third-generation thermostat with a larger screen than earlier generations, its display designed to be readable across a room. It’s WiFi-, Bluetooth- and Alexa-capable, and has a sensor that knows when the house is empty adjust accordingly. You can also set it to track the smartphones of everyone in your family if you wish.
- The Honeywell RTH9580WF. This one has a large rectangular touchscreen display showing the indoor and outdoor temperatures and the time as well. You can control it from an app on your smartphone, and like the other three, it is Alexa-ready.
- The ecobee3. At around $160, this one costs less than the first two, both of which are around $200. The ecobee3 comes with a free room sensor and capabilities for adding up to 32 in various parts of the house to gather data on your home’s energy profile. Compiling as much data as possible tells it what your preferences are, when to adjust the temperature, which rooms are occupied, and more. The ecobee3 is one of the more complex to install, though, so it’s best to have a professional do that.
- The Sensi WiFi. The most affordable one covered here – $100 or so – the Sensi runs on AA batteries and is the most widely compatible with older systems. The app you download for it includes installation instructions.
This is the future
Smart home technology, putting temperature, security, and even kitchen appliances on one system accessible from mobile devices, is the wave of the near future. Thermostats are probably going to get more advanced, but also more integrated with everything else. There’s no need to rush out and get the latest, but falling too far behind might make it harder to adjust when you do update.