Davis is a hotbed of innovation. The University of California is here, there are renewable energy solar panels installed everywhere, and in 2016 there were 14 new commercial startups founded in the city, including companies that specialized in medicine, food, and sensor technology. It feels like every time I visit Davis, I hear about some new tech that’s about to become a much bigger part of our lives.
Davis really does have a tech-friendly feel to it, so much so that it’s almost contagious. There’s a forward-thinking community push in town, and while you may not usually think of HVAC as being on the forefront of new technologies, there are a few lessons to be learned about adopting the most energy efficient heating and cooling systems for your home, especially in a startup-friendly place like Davis. Just look around. I’m sure you can see many homes nearby that have embraced new environmentally-friendly tech. Why haven’t you gotten in on the smart thermostat craze for your own home?
There aren’t many downsides to this tech. You’ll have to make a reasonable investment in it up front, of course, but then you’ll reap multiple benefits like a lower utility bill, the ability to adjust the temperature in your house from your smartphone, and an all around more comfortable, intuitive living space. The earth, your wallet, and your quality of life will all thank you. Plus, you get that exciting feeling of knowing you’re keeping up with the rest of Davis by being an early adopter. So, smarten up about the latest in thermostat technology and all it can do for you.
Get Smart: How Do Smart Thermostats Work?
A smart thermostat is not a thermostat you can use to check Facebook. While it shares the first word in common with your smartphone, the technology involved is, of course, very different. First and foremost, I want to assure you that it’s nothing to be intimidated by. Most smart thermostats can be easily integrated by an HVAC professional to work with your existing home heating and cooling system. Now, with that in mind, let’s look at some of the things that make smart thermostats so smart:
- Control away from home: My favorite feature of a smart thermostat is the way you can connect with it through your smartphone. With a simple app, you can see the current temperature in your home, track your usage habits, and turn it up or down with a few taps of your finger. You can do this anywhere that you usually use your smartphone, which, let’s face it, these days is just about everywhere.
- Increased energy efficiency: HVAC systems can use up a lot of energy, especially in Davis, which, like the rest of our area, is prone to severe temperatures in the summer (the average high in July is a scorching 93 degrees). With a smart thermostat, you can use the app on your phone to track the times you’re using AC the most and make sure they line up with when you’re actually in your home, awake, and in need of cooling. This tech makes it so you won’t end up running your thermostat too much when you’re out of the house or sleeping, wasting energy to power your HVAC.
- Lowered utility bills: With better energy efficiency comes lower utility bills. Smart thermostats are no exceptions. The amount of money you can save by installing one will, of course, vary given your family’s usage and other factors in your home like whether or not you have energy efficient windows or HVAC Ductwork. But, many smart thermostat manufacturers have savings calculators on their websites, including Honeywell and Nest. I recommend using these to generate a rough estimate, but be sure to call in an HVAC professional to evaluate your home in-person to verify just how much money you can save.
The Types of Smart Programmable Thermostats
Every time I go to buy a new phone, I feel like I have to learn about some new brand that might do the job better than the one I currently have. I guess it’s a technology thing, because there are a couple different types of smart thermostats for you to choose from, too. Maybe it’s because I’m an HVAC guy by nature, but I think the different types of programmable thermostats are easier to understand than the multitude of cell phones out there. Here are your options:
- Web-programmable thermostats: These are the most common type of smart thermostats, the ones you can program with your phone. In the simplest terms, they give you a chance to turn off your AC or furnace after you head to work or are on the road for a long weekend away.
- Intuitive thermostats: I personally refer to these as “smart-er” thermostats because they actually learn from your behavior and adjust to fit your habits. These thermostats can tell when you’re home or not and change the temperature accordingly to keep energy consumption down. For example, let’s say you’ve got several fans going. Your intuitive thermostat will recognize this and reduce the use of your AC accordingly. In a place like Davis where solar power is so prevalent, this could be especially useful. If it’s sunny and your panels are soaking up the rays, your smart thermostat would know it has plenty of energy to use on your AC during the day. The possibilities are many, but they all add up to those benefits we talked about above—efficiency, comfort, and savings.
I hope you feel like you’ve gotten smarter when it comes to smart thermostats. With the summer heat in full blaze now, it’s a great time to think about how you can make your home more energy efficient while also lowering your power bill. In a forward-thinking town like Davis, CA there’s simply no reason not to turn to technology to accomplish that.
I highly recommend having a trained HVAC professional help you through the smart thermostat installation process. Thermostats all use electrical components, which up the risk of accidents for the casual DIYer. Aside from that, smart thermostat’s are complex technology, and while HVAC techs may not be quite as savvy with computers as, say, our friends over in the Bay Area that work at Google or Apple, they can help you make the perfect smart thermostat choice for your unique house.
Get smart about cooling your house this summer. Contact the trained professionals at Bell Brothers to learn more about your smart thermostat options today.
Image courtesy Unsplash user Paula Lavalle