Smart Home Basics – Thermostats
I figured I would do a quick write up on one of the easiest ways to get into the Smart Home game. Thermostats. Everyone has one and smartening them up can result in real dollar savings. Personally, I am generally a super early adopter of these technologies so I’ve had my Nest thermostats since the very beginning. Pretty much since 2011 when they were introduced. At that time, Nest was the only game in town in terms of Smart Thermostats. Today, you have a few choices. I do think that the Android/iPhone of thermostats is Ecobee/Nest respectively. Nest has the mind share and market share (and for some design) locked down while Ecobee has some really great additional features like the remote sensors. Eventually, I hope to see Nest use it’s Nest Protects as remote sensors in my house. I have like 10 of them! (http://vcloudinfo.com/2017/06/psa-check-out-your-smoke-detectors-once.html)
Since I’m such a huge fan of Home Assistant, I won’t even look at devices that are not already supported by HA. Or at least have a very strong inclination to be supported in the future. Tips that a device will be supported are existing support for Amazon Echo devices, Google Home Assistant or even IFTTT. This demonstrated to me the companies willingness to open up and play nice with others.
In terms of automations, the thermostats for the most part are Set and Forget devices. They just work. Using Presence detection based on phones and physical sensors in the units, they know when the house is empty and can adjust the temps to save us money. When we arrive, they can also re-adjust and bring the house to the correct climate. Since they are internet connected, they can also adjust appropriately to maximize outdoor climates.. Like running fans vs compressors when suitable. For heating, Nest knows that it can actually shut the heat before the desired temps are reached since ambient heating will bring the degrees up the rest rather than shutting down AT the desired temp and then resulting in over shooting the temperatures.
For our house in Florida, we keep the basic settings to 84 F when we are not at the house and then the cooling kicks in when we arrive home to bring it back down to under 80. Humidity settings are set to 55% year round. If your schedule is sporadic like ours, this can really save some money and make the ROI on the device very fast. Eventually this Smart Home device pays for itself in real cash let alone comfort and convenience.
Since we have our windows and doors all wired up to the system, we additionally shut down the HVAC whenever there is an opening opened for more than 5 minutes. No need to cool the neighborhood. (http://vcloudinfo.com/2017/06/building-my-home-alarm-system-hardware.html)
We also use our Home Automation voice (Joanna) to issue verbal cues when we are home and the Cooling or Heating kicks in. This hopefully just makes us more conscience of the energy use in our home.
So if you are looking to get into home automation or you have already dipped your toes into lights or switches, take a look at your HVAC. I think this is one of the easiest ways to not only get more smarts into the house but also show how some of these IOT devices can actually reduce the operating costs of the home.
Of course, things CAN go horribly wrong if you aren’t paying attention! –A cautionary tale