Installing a 'smart' thermostat? Be smart about it

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Programmable thermostats have been around for a long time and provided you take the time to actually program them, they can save you money. (Source: Nest, EcoBee, Honeywell) Programmable thermostats have been around for a long time and provided you take the time to actually program them, they can save you money. (Source: Nest, EcoBee, Honeywell)
(DATA DOCTORS) -

Q: Trying to decide which smart thermostat to install in my home.

A: Programmable thermostats have been around for a long time and provided you take the time to actually program them, they can save you money.

"Smart" thermostats take energy saving to another level because they don't solely rely on your initial programming.

The main ways that they can save you money is by detecting when nobody is home and automatically adjusting the temperature to your lower energy "away" setting and by allowing you to remotely control them.

Heating or cooling your home when nobody is there will add up over a year's time, which is why a lot of these smart devices can pay for themselves over time.

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Nest: The Learning Thermostat
Nest was the first real advance in smart thermostats because of its sleek design, simple interface and its unique approach to the programming portion of the setup.

Instead of sitting down to guess what temperature to set for each day and day-part, the Nest system simply has you adjust the temperature the way you would an old-school thermostat and automatically builds a schedule for you.

Nest also has a built-in motion sensor that helps it determine when no one is home, so it can automatically change the thermostat to a pre-designated "away" temperature.

This is a huge benefit to anyone who has an irregular schedule but it also helps Nest "learn" your patterns for better scheduling.

Nest was acquired by Google a couple of years ago and has become its platform for the smart home.

If you have or want to include Nest security cameras, smoke/CO detectors, smart lights, doorbells and control everything with voice commands via the Google Home smart speaker, you can see all the offerings at https://store.nest.com.

EcoBee with remote sensors
The EcoBee thermostats don't have the "learning" ability of the Nest, but they do have the same motion-sensing capabilities.

For those who have larger homes, having a single motion sensor like the Nest offers may not be the best way to monitor movement.

EcoBee offers various models that include remote sensors that can be placed in the rooms that you use the most. This is helpful for those who might work for long periods of time in a home office, for example. 

The recently launched EcoBee4 system also has a built-in microphone and native support for Amazon's voice-technology, so it extends your Alexa voice command range in the house.

[RELATED: Is Amazon Echo snooping on me?]

Honeywell  value options
Honeywell has a long track record in the thermostat business, but it lacks some of the "smart" sophistication of the other two.

If you're looking for lower cost options with remote controls and programmability, there are many options to choose from at https://goo.gl/5hjNa4.

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Installation and compatibility
Installation can range from simple to a complete nightmare depending on the age of your HVAC system and your technical skills, so proceed accordingly.

If you plan on expanding your smart home to other devices, make sure you review the compatibility of the thermostat with the smart platforms you are interested in using.

[RELATED: Smart devices: Do you own what you buy?]

[RELATED: Gilbert apartment complex joins ‘smart home’ movement, but will the trend take off?]


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