Smart HVAC Systems: To Buy or Not to Buy?

If you’re reading this article, that probably means you’re looking for a solution to some HVAC problems.

While Smart HVAC systems are useful, they won’t fix everything. If your heating hasn’t been working like it used to, or if you’ve maybe seen an increase in your power bill, it’s probably time for a furnace check-up.

If you’re looking to vamp up your heat, some maintenance should do the trick. If you’re looking for a way to spruce things up, keep reading.

So, what is a Smart HVAC System?

Well, it’s a few things. Basically, it is a system of sensors that gather information on your system’s performance and improve it. There are a few types of smart tech that you can choose from, such as a thermostat, humidifier, or even vents!

The type of systems you want will depend on what you’re looking to improve. These will give you specific information, and you can monitor your system in real-time remotely with internet access.

The best part? These smart-systems can learn your patterns, knowing when to adjust accordingly and letting you save on your electricity bill without having to even think about it.

How do I know it’s worth it?

There’s a lot to know when you’re looking at new HVAC upgrades, but it’s crucial to keep in mind that it’s an investment.

Buying a Smart HVAC System can potentially save you up to 10-20% off of your electricity bill, the cost of installing a smart thermostat on its own can cost up to triple that of the standard ones. This is an investment that will pay off over time.”

Some signs you might want to invest in a Smart HVAC System include;

  1. Frequently adjusting the thermostat to get comfortable in different rooms
  2. Don’t know when to schedule HVAC maintenance, needing repairs frequently
  3. A lot of the day spent out of the house
  4. Not knowing how to communicate issues effectively to technicians

One pretty big advantage would be remote online access. Using these devices, you can check on your thermostat from wherever you have your phone and an internet connection. Meaning you can remotely adjust the temperature in your home to keep your bills down consistently. Paired with other smart systems, you’ll be able to see diagnostics, such as a window that may be open, or an attic unit that is not sealed properly.

If you find that you’re always missing the mark on your maintenance calls, it can take a toll on your wallet when you have to rely on repairs. Diagnostics can give you maintenance reminders, and specifics when there’s an issue, so you don’t have to pay for service calls trying to find the problem.

According to “Smile HVAC Furnace and AC Repair Service”: “Taking the time to get up and adjust the temperature to get comfortable throughout the day can be obnoxious. To save yourself the time, these appliances learn your habits, so you don’t even need to think about it. That’s a useful feature especially if you have a smart house. You can even program smart HVAC units to set the particular temperature and humidity at your place 1 hour before you are going to bed.”

Sounds great, but how do I prepare?

Well, I’ll break it down. First of all, don’t take energy savings figures at face value. You’ll more than likely save less than what’s advertised to you and it’s important to keep in mind that these installations are an investment. Return can take longer than estimated.

On the technical side, you’ll need to make sure that your current thermostat and HVAC system is low voltage (24v). This is required by brands like Nest, Ecobee, and Honeywell.

A good giveaway that you have a low voltage system is if you have a single thermostat in your house covering several rooms or “zones” that controls a large furnace in your basement or garage as shown. The wires behind the thermostat should be thin and multi-coloured.

If you have a thermostat and/or a heater in each room, you’re probably looking at a high voltage system. If you think you have a high voltage system, you can check out Ecobee’s compatibility checker and see some options.

If you decide on a new thermostat, you should make sure to choose an appropriate time to install it. You’ll want the weather to be moderate enough that you can be comfortable for some time without being able to use your heating or cooling.

When you take the old thermostat out be sure to take good quality images of the wiring before you detach it. This will be useful if something happens during the installation and you need to reinstall the original device.

When you’re detaching the wiring, you’ll want to have wire cutters and wire strippers on hand. The wires used in thermostats tend to be very thin and can break easily and some tips may snap off.

Wall damage will also be a possibility here, so you should be ready to make a few repairs as well. A good alternative to patching is a covering plate which comes with most models of thermostats

While you typically can install on your own, having a professional come in has some hefty benefits.

While they’re there, they can take a look at your system and service it for you, even performing other electrical work around the house if you request it. You may also need to run new wires, in which case you’ll probably want a professional there anyway.

What if your thermostat is in an inconvenient location? Maybe it’s somewhere blocked off, or somewhere near a door or window that can skew temperature readings. If that’s the case, having a professional performing the installation can mean moving the thermostat to a better location.

 

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