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I thought programmable thermostats were a brilliant invention when I bought my first one back in 2003. That’s when I moved out of my Chicago condo, with its centrally controlled boiler, and into a single-family home. I liked the set-it-and-forget-it convenience of programing a week’s-worth of morning, evening and weekend temperature changes that just happened automatically.

Manufacturers Are Turning up the Heat on Thermostat Intelligence

Chuck Ross
I thought programmable thermostats were a brilliant invention when I bought my first one back in 2003. That’s when I moved out of my Chicago condo, with its centrally controlled boiler, and into a single-family home. I liked the set-it-and-forget-it convenience of programing a week’s-worth of morning, evening and weekend temperature changes that just happened automatically. One house and a new furnace later, I recently upgraded to a “smart” thermostat, and I’ve become an even bigger fan of these new devices. The latest offerings bring more dynamic control that goes beyond basic on/off functionality, enabling remote adjustments from anywhere with an internet connection. Some even have the ability to “learn” from your regular living patterns to suggest options for even more energy savings over time.

Jonathan Wilson, product manager with Hubbell Wiring Devices says these new thermostats offer numerous advantages over basic programmable models, including “giving a user more granular control of their home heating and cooling system, and tying controls to outside integrations that can be triggered by more than just time of day and a timer.”

That second point refers to the capability some smart thermostats have to work with outside services like IFTTT (which stands for “if this, then that”), so homeowners can create their own custom programs. Wilson says the iDevices Thermostat from Hubbell offers this feature, which allows for some truly smart operations. “It can be set based on weather forecasts or even use the geolocation of your mobile device to heat or cool your house when you’re headed home from work or away.”

Contractors also might be seeing growing demand for smart thermostats as energy efficiency becomes a more important climate goal. “In some locales, demand response and other energy efficiency standards are being put in place, either as a requirement or to provide energy credits,” Wilson says. “Smart thermostats allow compliance with those.”
Photo courtesy of iDevices
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