How a Smart Thermostat can help you: Save Energy, Improve Comfort and Save the Planet
Posted on: June 15, 2017, by : geek1

The Smart Thermostat is not new, This technology has been around for decades, but more recent connected devices add a few more features that really add up to making things better.

Overview

We started with Thermostats that you could program different temperatures at different times of the day or week, then added in features like automatic Day-Light Savings time adjustment, Preheat features so temperature is ready when you need it, and then we add the internet of things(IoT) to the puzzle. Wifi/Network/WWW connected technologies now talk to each other and share information. Google, Apple, Amazon and many other companies are pushing to place their products in your home, to help you manage your life better.

For this discussion, we will be referencing the Generation 2 Nest Smart Thermostat. The most current generation 3 can be found here.

  1. The Nest Smart Thermostat is generally used to help you keep your environment’s temperature just right, when you need it, and more energy efficient when you don’t.
  2. Automatic Learning, during the initial 1-2 weeks, the Nest will ask you to change the temperature as you would on a manual thermostat, to learn what temperatures you desire when. From there, it will create a temperature schedule for your weekly activities. You can also manually edit this schedule on the Thermostat, or on the accompanying app.
  3. Connected to the Web, The Nest also connects to the WeatherUnderground Data Engine to gather your local weather, and uses this data to properly heat or cool your home. Nest also collects data to provide each user with a monthly energy report, lets you know how well you did on energy compared to other Nest users in your area, and across the country.
  4. Inter Connectivity, your Nest products are capable of sharing certain data outside their Nest Ecosystem, using web interfaces that let you coordinate multiple input and output devices. Open Source KAA and freeware IFTTT are 2 popular logic oriented web tools that let the geek in you shine. Using these web tools, we can trigger the Thermostat to warm up the house and turn on the Garage pathway lights when we open the Garage door from the Car remote, Or when we are 5km from home.  Connecting Smart light bulbs, door locks, switches, relays, sensors and environment details in a logical flow. If front door camera senses movement, turn on front door light, and send image capture to my iPhone. The Nest Family products like the Protect and Cameras also talk to the Thermostat to provide additional data.
  5. Set it and Leave it, all Smart thermostats try to automate what they can, or remind you of stuff you might need to do, like change the air filter in your furnace. Our Nest reminds us to replace the air filter at an interval I chose, twice a year for our larger 4 inch thick filters, more often if you use smaller 1 inch filters. You really need to check them often, or if you have a newer Smart Furnace, it may watch the air filter performance and let you know its time to replace it. Other than the occasional manual adjustment, the Nest can basically manage your comfort control for you. If you leave the house, and the Nest doesn’t see any movement, it will switch to away mode automatically, you can adjust this, but super awesome feature if you might forget to switch your thermostat to away mode manually. Of course most have an App that lets you do that remotely, a great plan B, but I like that it just knows.
  6. Very customizable, most Smart Thermostats provide a slew of options and ways to configure your environmental needs. However, there are still more technologies on the horizon, better integration with Home Ventilation systems, and third party products to enhance your efficiencies. We can also await some new products from KAA, why shouldn’t the software developer start making hardware, briliant, watch for some cool products at KaaIoT.io
Conclusion

It’s pretty easy to see why turning your thermostat down will save on energy costs, but when you start to add all your home or office systems into an integrated network of devices that communicate, well, now we can start seeing some progress. Don’t get me wrong here, these devices will not solve all our problems, and because IoT is in it’s infancy, we’re going to have a lot more products to choose from. Many of the big companies will follow suit with their existing ecosystems, But I believe the Open Source options will make a strong running for the smarter World  we need to live in.

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