Winter in the Prairies is cold, dark and long. Did I mention cold? So much cold! We spend the best part of 6 months around or below 0C. Because of these temperatures, as an industry, we have had to adapt our building technologies and codes to account for the harsh winter months and the toll it can take on our buildings. Obviously, the main system we need to worry ourselves with during these icy cold months is the heating system. Everything else is bearable, so long as it’s warm. Which means our thermostat had better be doing it’s job!
What Does A Thermostat Do?
At it’s most basic level, a thermostat is a switch. It simply tells the heating system to turn on and off. It adds an element of self-control that a regular switch doesn’t have though. We can set the temperature at our desired point. The thermostat reads the temperature around itself, then turns on or off depending on what it reads. Saves us getting up and down 100 times while we’re watching Shameless (I mean, it’s the room that’s hot … ) to adjust the heat. Pretty straight forward. But a little too simple.
While we’re away at work, the heat runs to keep our homes cozy during these cold months. What used to cost pennies a day now costs dollars a day. This can translate into thousands of dollars a year! As the cost to heat (and ultimately to cool) continue to rise, we demand more control. We don’t need the heat up while we are at work or out shopping. We certainly don’t need the heat up while we are away on vacation! But what if we forget to turn the heat down before we leave? Dollars wasted. And who wants to come home to a frigid house after a freezing commute home on the bus? No one. Fortunately, there are choices. We can find a thermostat that fits your needs.
Benefits Of A Smart/Programmable Thermostat
A programmable thermostat can give us the control we need to help keep heating (cooling) costs manageable. For example, these thermostats can be set to maintain a specific schedule. For example, up to 21C at 6:00am when you wake up, down to 17C at 7:30am when you walk out the door for work, back up to 21C at 5:00pm when you get home from work and then finally down to 18C at 9:30pm when you head off to bed. Everyday. For a little more money you can get one that will keep track of Monday to Friday, then Saturday and Sunday. Vacations and days off are on you though and you will need to manually override the schedule to account for you being or not being home (Netflix and chill means something different on your day off if the heat stays at 17C all day).
A smart thermostat does what a programmable thermostat does and then more. For starters, it will hook up to your wifi network and allow you control of your device while away from home on your smartphone or tablet. This gives you the option to monitor your system and turn it on and off remotely. Depending on brand, you may also get additional information such as monthly energy use, weather, system operation and maintenance reminders.
The thermostat may sense when you are home or away, optimizing comfort when you are home and conserving energy when you are away. No Scheduling needed! It actually senses when you are in the house. Changes in schedule are automatically detected and accounted for. Some can even detect when you are near by using your phones location setting (geo-fencing), which allows the heating system to be at the set temperature when you arrive. You return to a warm house and don’t need to wait for it to warm up.
Furthermore, it may minimize run time by using weather and system performance data to bring your home to the correct temperature. This feature helps keep your system as efficient as possible, keeping your monthly costs down.
Another great feature that many smart thermostats offer is an extra room sensor. This allows you to choose which location is the most important to control the temperature. The thermostat remains in the hallway, but you can put the sensor in the always-cold nursery or the never-the-right-temperature living room and it tells the thermostat to turn on or off. Just another level of control.
My favorite feature of a smart thermostat is their ability to integrate into smart home controls. Many brands allow Siri (Apple), Alexa (Amazon) and Google Home to use voice activation to control your thermostat. Others integrate into universal remotes so that when it’s finally time to relax and put on a good movie, the lights dim and the thermostat drops a few degrees to ensure your significant other (furry or human) cuddle in close under that Grandma quilt.
How To Choose The Right Device
Whether you choose a programmable thermostat or a smart thermostat, you will be saving money in the long run. While they can range from $40 to $350, they will all pay for themselves. It really comes down to the level of control you want to have over your heating system.
Technology is continually expanding into our homes, like it or not. Unfortunately though, the cost of our utilities are continually increasing as well. A smart/programmable thermostat is a sure way to help minimize those costs. They definitely increase efficiency and give us the most control.
If you’d like to discuss more or have a wiring situation you would like a professional electrician to look at – give me a call at 306-551-5254!