Despite the rapidly approaching fall, we’ve still got high temperatures here in Austin. Air conditioning continues to be a day and night long necessity in our homes. Because of that, electricity bills continue to be a source of dread for many people in Austin and Round Rock and Georgetown. That means that anything we can do to lower those bills is worth investigating.
Air conditioners are made up of a lot of parts. The system is large and it requires the working together of the outdoor unit, the indoor unit, the ducts and the filters to make it happen. But the part of the system that directly connects us to the air conditioning, the interface through which we control the air in our homes, is and always will be the thermostat, that small little device inconspicuously stuck to the wall that allows us to utilize all of this technology and choose exactly what temperature we want the air in our homes to be. Now, most thermostats, unless they’re in need of repair, do this just fine. But what if they were better? What if there were options out there for advanced thermostat technology that could increase their ease of use, their customization, and save us money? Well, that’s where Wi-Fi thermostats come in.
What is a Wi-Fi Thermostat?
A Wi-Fi thermostat is a type of programmable thermostat. A programmable thermostat is a thermostat that allows you to set times when the thermostat will adjust the temperature up and down automatically. This way you can have the air conditioner let up and not work as hard during the times when the house is empty regularly, such as when people are at work or school.
What makes a Wi-Fi thermostat different from a regular programmable thermostat that doesn’t have internet access is that its settings can be changed from your phone, computer, or tablet. For those of you who are interested in creating a smart home, in adding automation and high-tech features to your house, a Wi-Fi thermostat is an indispensable first step.
Old, unsophisticated thermostats allow a user to increase or decrease indoor temperature on site. Wi-Fi thermostats are much more sophisticated, allowing operators to adjust temperature, humidity, and a number of other variables from anywhere in the world. And still, there are further advances. Some devices can intelligently learn your schedule, accommodate typical temperature preferences, and acknowledge an individual’s proximity or a structure’s occupancy. And while many are just wrapping their heads around existing technology, HVAC manufacturers are persistently pursuing enhancements that will define the units of tomorrow.
Wi-Fi thermostats can be even more appealing when consider them a part of an overall home automation system. If this is something that sounds appealing to you, then make sure that when you shop for a Wi-Fi thermostat that you look for one that is compatible with a home automation system. That way you could use an app on your phone for example to control all the technology in your home, your stereo, your thermostat, your lights, your blinds. The possibilities are endless with Wi-Fi technology and home automation.
How Can a Wi-Fi Thermostat Save Money?
The way a Wi-Fi thermostat can save you money is through this process: first, you decide when you want your air conditioner not working as hard, then you set the thermostat over Wi-Fi so that it goes up by 5 to 10 degrees when it makes sense to do so, then the thermostat does the rest of the work and your air conditioner use is automatically optimized to use less energy than it would without it.
It’s not that you can’t do this with a regular thermostat. Sure, you can change the thermostat setting every time you leave the house, go to sleep, or return home. But that would require remembering to do this every day throughout the day, and teaching everyone else in the household to do the same. The chances of this happening and the habit sticking long enough and consistently enough for you to make a significant saving is incredibly low. There are some things people are good at doing, small automatic tasks like changing the thermostat are not one of them.
According to Energy Star, the average household sucks about $2,200 per year in energy bill costs. About half of that goes to heating and cooling the house with air conditioning and heating systems. What a Wi-Fi thermostat does is it allows you to bring your air conditioner usage to its greatest energy efficiency potential by giving you unlimited digital access to the controls.
Smart home technology is becoming increasingly more popular as the technology gets better and the price points get lower. In fact, a recent study done by the Consumer Electronics Association found that 47 percent of online U.S. households indicate they have a programmable and/or smart thermostat currently installed in their homes.
How much you can actually save in-home energy bills will depend on a variety of factors. Some of those factors include the environment you live in, how cool you like your home normally, how often you’re away from the house, whether you can do with turning your AC up while you’re asleep, the size of your home, and a number of other factors. Different companies have different studies that give estimates of average savings achieved by using Wi-Fi thermostats. Ecobee claims their thermostats saved owners an average of 23% in heating and cooling costs in 2013, while Nest says they've saved 10 - 12% on heating and 15% on cooling between three studies, resulting in average annual savings of $131 - $145. Nest and Honeywell have savings calculators available where you can get a ballpark idea of how much money you can save.
What Kinds of Wi-Fi Thermostats are There?
Now, let’s get into some specifics. There’s so much variety out there in terms of what’s available in the Wi-Fi thermostat world and what they can do that the only way to really get a good idea of what you can get out of a Wi-Fi thermostat is to look at some of the more popular models and their features. I’ll go over some of those features in this section.
Let’s start with the Nest Learning Thermostat. This model has the awesome feature of being more useful the longer you use it. In fact, the longer you use the Nest Learning Thermostat, the less you have to think about it. You start by setting some temperatures settings and times just like you would with any other programmable thermostat using the app on your phone. Then, over time, the thermostat learns your preferences and your schedule. With data inputs here and there such as adjustments to the temperature you make and when make them, the thermostat will soon start adjusting itself automatically. Using your phone as a marker of your proximity to the house, it can learn when you arrive home and leave regularly and adjust the temperature to your preferred spot automatically. It can even automatically make adjustments based on changes in the seasons. And you can use the mobile app to get a look at what kind of things it has learned about your habits and how much money you’ve been saving.
The Ecobee3 Smart Wi-Fi thermostat is next. This model uses motion sensors placed throughout the house to get an accurate view of where you are and whether you’re home or not. It can then adjust the temperature automatically based on whether you’re home or away, awake or sleeping. The sensors can tell whether you’re out of a room or in it but just sleeping or resting. This way, the temperature can be optimized at all times without you having to do a thing. You can use the app to see what it’s doing, how it’s adjusting the temperature, and what you’re saving.
The Honeywell Smart Wi-Fi thermostat is another big contender. This model is easy to set up and install, very user-friendly, and endlessly flexible. It gets started by asking you a few questions about your schedule to set up a seven-day program of automatically changing temperatures. This can obviously be changed anytime manually from anywhere using your phone. It has a bunch of handy features such as alerts when extreme weather changes are coming, a reminder of when you should change your air filters, and more. And it’s bright and colorful display can give you a lot of information at a glance such as the outside temperature and weather, humidity, wind, and more.
Wi-Fi Thermostats and AC Repair in Austin
So, as you can see, there are a lot of benefits to upgrading to a Wi-Fi thermostat. Not only can they increase your at-home comfort, take the adjusting of your air conditioner off your mind, give you a lot of handy features such as humidity read-outs and weather prediction, they can end up saving you significant amounts of money on your energy bill. If you plan on living where you are now for a while, your Wi-Fi thermostat will almost certainly pay itself off and more.
If you’re interested in learning more about Wi-Fi thermostats or having one installed soon, contact AC Express. We’re an Austin air conditioning company that excels at all things residential air conditioning, from repair to upgrades and replacement. Air conditioning repair in Austin is the name of our game, from Cedar Park and Leander to Liberty Hill and Manor. For expert Austin AC repair today, call AC Express!