Once you change from a manual thermostat to a programmable one, it doesn’t take long to discover that programmable thermostats offer great benefits to your wallet, your home and your personal comfort. Smart thermostats allow you to create a heating and cooling schedule for your home, so it’s always at the perfect temperature. That means no more tedious dialing up and dialing back, no more having to remember to turn the heat down when you go to bed at night or away on vacation and no more coming home to a cold house in the middle of winter or a sweltering house in the dog days of summer. A smart thermostat does all the adjusting for you, based on your personal preferences and needs. Best of all, it saves you energy, time and money.
Not surprisingly, given their numerous advantages, there are many smart thermostats on the market to choose from—but how do you know which is the right one for you? We’re here to help.
Starting April 28, 2017, Energy Efficiency Alberta is offering a $100 rebate on three leading brands of smart thermostats, all of which have unique benefits: Ecobee, Nest and Honeywell. There are different models for each of the brands, but here are the basic features of each.
Ecobee makes the most popular rooms in your home the most comfortable by tracking occupancy and adjusting temperature based on preferred settings. Rather than reading air temperature from the base location and switching on the furnace or A/C due to the ambient temperature there, a series of room sensors around the house tell Ecobee when occupied rooms have dropped below or risen above the preferred temperature setting. As a result, heat and A/C kick in when and where it’s actually needed. There is a Smart Home/Away feature with Ecobee as well, which makes sure rooms are comfortable when you’re home and that you’re saving money when you’re not. You can adjust temperatures through Ecobee from your smartphone, tablet or Apple Watch. Amazon Echo—as soon as it arrives in Canada—will allow allows you to control the device with your voice, and the system uses local weather information to incorporate temperature adjustments more efficiently.
Nest thermostats take a new approach to home comfort and energy efficiency by “learning” your heating and cooling habits. The system is equipped with motion tracking sensors that detect when you’re home and away, and it automatically makes appropriate temperature changes to save energy – and save you money. The learning doesn’t stop there: every adjustment you make to the dial goes into a self-programming algorithm which means you’ll need to make fewer adjustments over time. If you like a cooler home while you sleep, Nest will notice what temperature you set it to every night, and within a few days the unit will set the temperature to your preferred setting before you go to bed.
Even better, Nest learns the temperatures you like at certain times of day, and automatically creates a schedule of those temperatures for you. The Auto-Away feature automatically adjusts the temperature after you leave the house, so you’re not heating or cooling an empty home. Nest can be controlled remotely from your smartphone, tablet or laptop, and the coordinating app lets you see how much energy you’re using—and why. Nest thermostats can even save your life, given that they work with Nest Protect, which detects carbon monoxide gas. If detected, Nest Protect will tell the thermostat to shut off the furnace—a common source of the dangerous gas.
Honeywell Wi-Fi Smart Thermostats are ideally suited for the connected home and are compatible with smartphones. They are packed with smart features like an intuitive touchscreen interface, email alerts, and independent programming for the house fan and humidifier. Honeywell learns your preferences over time, and starts heating and cooling in advance accordingly. The screens are colourful as well as changeable—you can choose your favorite background colour to match your decor or mood.
Lyric, a sub-brand of Honeywell, makes a series of programmable thermostats that are fully compatible with Apple HomeKit, Samsung SmartThings and other smart home technologies, so all your home comforts are taken care of in a simple and intuitive way. The thermostat uses your smartphone’s location to automatically activate when you’re nearby and subsequently go into away mode when you leave the house. Lyric measures levels of indoor humidity, and lets you know when a filter needs replacing or HVAC service is required. It will even show you where to locate a trusted service technician. A motion sensing display lights up as you approach the device, and the LED illuminated halo ring changes colour with function: orange for heating, blue for cooling and green for savings. Lyric even comes with an optional back-plate which covers paint gaps or screw holes left behind by the old thermostat. Now that’s smart.