If you’ve recently heard a lot about smart thermostats, such as Nest or Ecobee, you’re not alone. These devices are becoming more and more commonplace in residential dwellings. Industry experts predict that worldwide shipments of smart thermostats are expected to grow from 926,000 annually in 2014 to 9.2 million by 2023. These devices give you ultimate control over your home’s temperature and your family’s comfort any time of the day or night. So, if you’re thinking about getting a smart thermostat, here’s some basic things you should know.

How do smart thermostats work?
You can control the temperature setting though an app on your smartphone. You select the temperature you want and the app will use the Internet to send the temperature setting (the “instruction”) to your home. Then, your home’s Wi-Fi router transmits the temperature setting to the thermostat. Once the thermostat receives the instruction, it readjusts its own temperature setting and sends a signal to your HVAC (heating, ventilation, air conditioning) unit to turn on or off.

This works well, for example, if you’re at work and it’s almost the end of your shift. You can turn on the air conditioning so that it will be cool and comfortable when you return home. That way, you only pay for the electricity you need (when you’re home) to cool the house. Or, if you forgot to adjust the thermostat manually before leaving for the weekend, you can change it on the fly so as not to incur any unnecessary heating/cooling costs.

Are smart thermostats worth the investment?
Generally yes, because they’ll help save you money, particularly if no one is at home during the day. Smart thermostats require an initial investment that is higher than a simple programmable model. Many brands are designed for relatively easy installation for DIY-ers, or you can hire a professional to install it for you. Professional installation costs are often quickly recouped.

How much do smart thermostats cost?
Both the Google Nest Learning Thermostat and Ecobee’s SmartThermostat start around $250.00 (price for unit only). Prices frequently change, particularly as newer models come out. Add-on features like room temperature sensors, smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors, and security cameras are additional. For more information, check out CNET’s review of 2019’s Best Smart Home Thermostats.

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