4 Features to Look for in a Smart Thermostat

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Smart thermostats are becoming more popular because of the convenience and precise comfort control they provide. While several options are available for virtually every type of HVAC system, you need to understand the features of any thermostats you are considering to ensure they are compatible with your system. Here are four features to look for in a smart thermostat.

1. Scheduling Options

Smart thermostats have varying levels of scheduling customizability. For example, 7-day thermostats allow you to set a custom heating and cooling schedule for every day of the week. However, 5/2 models have one schedule for weekdays and one schedule for the weekends.  You could also use a 5/1/1 thermostat, which has one schedule for weekdays and can have unique schedules for Saturday and Sunday.

In general, the more precise your thermostat’s scheduling options are, the more expensive the unit will be. Homeowners who work from home or otherwise spend most of their time in their house would benefit most from 7-day thermostats. Otherwise, you may be able to enjoy significant savings by choosing a thermostat with a less customizable schedule.

2. Heating Stage Compatibility

Many older furnaces have fans that can only run at one speed. These furnaces are called single-stage furnaces. However, modern furnaces have improved on energy-efficiency by offering dual-stage and multi-stage options. Dual-stage furnaces have high- and low-power modes, while multi-stage furnaces can adapt their fan speed dynamically to your home’s heating demands.

You should understand what heating stage options your furnace has to find a thermostat that is compatible. Single stage furnaces only have one heating wire and one cooling wire that run to the thermostat. But furnaces with multiple stages use multiple wires and connectors.

Look at the wiring of your current thermostat to determine what type of furnace you have.

3. Zoning Compatibility

Zoning in HVAC terminology refers to the capability of heating and cooling different areas of your home individually. Duct dampers handle this task in traditional forced-air systems, and individual air handlers accomplish it in ductless systems. The benefit of zoning is that you can only heat or cool the rooms you are using to help save energy.

If your HVAC system uses separate air handlers, it may be necessary to install a thermostat for each zone to control their temperatures individually. This is referred to as system-based zoning. However, many homes can be accommodated with sensor-based zoning, where sensors read the temperature in each zone and allow you to control your system with a single smart thermostat.

4. Wi-Fi Connectivity

Perhaps the biggest convenience that comes with a smart thermostat is Wi-Fi connectivity. With a Wi-Fi thermostat, you can use a computer or mobile device to make adjustments to your thermostat without the need to interact with the wall display. Many homeowners also choose to integrate a smart home system, which allows them to control their HVAC system and other devices from one central hub.

Smart thermostats with Wi-Fi connectivity often have additional internet-based features. Some will use online weather forecasts to make changes to their schedule, while others can detect the GPS location of your phone and heat or cool your home for you before you walk in the door.

Review the Wi-Fi features of any smart thermostat carefully so you can be sure it provides the specific functionality you’re looking for.

Not all smart thermostats are made equal, so when you know what to look for, you can ensure that you are happy with your purchase for years to come. Keep these tips in mind, and call our team at Edelman Inc. for all your HVAC needs.


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