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How To Choose A Smart Thermostat In 2021
We’re all familiar with the troubles of keeping our homes heated – struggling to keep the temperature comfortable, heating rooms that aren’t in use, arriving home from holiday to a cold house and no hot water, or over-paying on power bills because the heating was left on all day, just to name a few. But those days may well be behind us with the advent of smart thermostats.
Smart thermostats not only maintain the ideal temperature through scheduling, some allow you to control rooms individually, and can recognise when you’re out, shutting off the heating to save power. From both a financial and environmental standpoint there are numerous advantages to investing in a smart thermostat, but there are a few things to consider before deciding on which one to purchase.
Whole house or multi-room?
A basic smart thermostat, such as the 3rd-Gen Nest, simply replaces your current thermostat, offering smart control over the entire house. This is a cheaper option, but you won’t be able to maintain rooms at different temperatures through the smart controller (you’ll still be able to adjust each radiator manually).
With a zoned heating system, however, such as the Honeywell Evohome, you can control each room individually, meaning, for example, that you can turn the heating down in the bedrooms while keeping the living room cosy. This does require a smart thermostatic radiator valve (TRV) to be installed on each radiator, which increases the cost of installation considerably. If you do have a larger house and more rooms to consider, however, it will likely save you more money in the long term.
Some smart thermostats are able to learn how long your house takes to heat to the desired temperature, and allow you to tell them when you want it heated. They then use this information, sometimes in conjunction with internet weather forecasts, to determine when they need to switch on to reach the desired temperature on time. Some models are also able to learn your routine and pre-empt your needs, saving you the need to programme them manually.
While you’re out
Most smart thermostats will try and detect when the house is empty, so they can shut the heating off to save power. Many systems, such as Tado, use geofencing through a phone app, but this will have to be on the phones of all household occupants to be effective – otherwise anyone without the app may find themselves at home in a very cold house. Others, such as Nest, use a motion sensor to determine when everyone is out.
Use of GPS tracking also allows smart thermostats to determine when you’re on the way home, so the house can be warm when you get there. Alternatively, the Hive system alerts you if you’ve gone out and left the heating on, or if you’re returning and the temperature is too low, without adjusting it automatically.
Connectivity and voice controls
On a practical note, if your smart thermostat doesn’t have wireless connectivity you will need to ensure you have a spare ethernet socket on your router. You may also want to use voice controls to allow you to adjust the temperature outside normal scheduling – in this case ensure the thermostat works with your current voice support system. Finally, you may want to look for integration with IFTTT (if this then that) automation services to allow you to set certain events to trigger specific heating modes.