Residential heating and air conditioning systems have come a long way since these comfort units were first introduced to the public. It was humidity, not heat or cold, that brought about the invention of the modern HVAC system. A newspaper called on an engineer, Willis Carrier, to solve a difficult problem: the ink on the newly printed pages was smudging due to the moisture in the air. His successful attempt to fix said problem resulted in the invention of the fundamental machines which cool and heat our homes today. The sunbelt, at this time, was sparsely populated, but by the early 1950’s, these systems caused this portion of the country to skyrocket in population.
The Difference between Programmable and Smart Thermostats
In fact, air conditioning is so transformative, that it caused the Phoenix population to steeply increase from 106,818 in 1950 to 581,562 in 1970, a whopping expansion of nearly 550 percent. Today, we are less concerned about the inner workings of these units, that is, until we open the monthly utility bill. It’s no secret that it is expensive to keep a home comfortable year-round in the Valley of the Sun. So, consumers are starting to turn toward new technologies.
You can save money on your heating and cooling bills by simply resetting your thermostat when you are asleep or away from home. You can do this automatically without sacrificing comfort by installing an automatic setback or programmable thermostat. Using a programmable thermostat, you can adjust the times you turn on the heating or air-conditioning according to a pre-set schedule. Programmable thermostats can store and repeat multiple daily settings (six or more temperature settings a day) that you can manually override without affecting the rest of the daily or weekly program. —US Department of Engergy
Traditional thermostats are comprised of two dissimilar strips of metal, which are affected by the coefficient of thermal expansion. In other words, when the temperature rises or drops, it triggers the system to cool or heat a home. Needless to say, the “technology” within these analog units is quite dated, and some time ago, programmable thermostats were introduced to the market. Now, smart thermostats are being offered by manufacturers. So, what’s the difference between programmable and smart thermostats? Their namesakes give us the answer. Programmable are just that, and, it’s the user who sets the temperature schedule. Smart thermostats are too, programmable, but, “learn” your preferences and from its environment over time — hence, “smart.”
Pros and Cons of Smart Thermostats
Smart thermostats are more sophisticated than their predecessors, but, these technological advances are not perfect. Just like many other new introductory technologies, these are not necessarily the ideal answer out-of-the-box, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t worth trying. The pros of smart thermostats are the ability to learn your personal heating and cooling habits, can be managed with an app or browser, and, will display data about your system and use. The cons of smart thermostat is that it needs constant power and/or wireless connection, might misinterpret manual user cycling (turning the system on or off and/or adjusting the temperature manually), interruption of communication with browser or app control.
Before you purchase and install a smart thermostat, you should have your residential HVAC inspected to ensure it’s running at peak performance and you’ll get as much possible savings out of this technology.