Smart HVAC systems are growing in popularity and will soon become the new norm. They increase comfort and convenience while saving you money in the long run. Once you make the leap, you realize there’s no other option. Reverting to an old school thermostat becomes comparable to going back to a flip phone. “Once you go smart HVAC, you don’t go back“.
I’ve started on a journey some years ago, trying to convert my not-so-intelligent home into a smart home. From getting a smart home controller to appliances and devices galore, it finally came time for me to look into my HVAC system.
Smart HVAC systems seemed a little invasive when I started my research, but the deeper my search went, the more I knew I needed one. In the end, I decided to start with an Ecobee Smart Thermostat. I built on a little at a time from there, until I had quite the setup.
This article is going to explain the ins and the outs of Smart Heating And Cooling systems and what you need to know. Before I get in too deep, I’m going to let you know what my recommendations are in getting started. This way you don’t have to search through the entire article for the meat and potatoes.
The brains of your Smart HVAC system is where you’ll want to start – your smart thermostat. I’ve narrowed the most viable options down to 2.
I would choose this thermostat if you plan on using it with Alexa. There is actually an Alexa Assistant built-in, so you can talk to the thermostat directly. It is missing some features though and doesn’t have a quality speaker for listening to music. I would still purchase an Amazon Echo.
Secondly, if you’d like to add in integrated smart vents, this would be your pick.
This is, in my opinion, the best overall smart thermostat on the market.
Nest is still great technology, but since Google’s purchase of the company, they have been much less supportive of integration with other smart devices. I would only pick this if I was dead set on having a Google Home setup. The Google Home (Nest) smart speakers work great with it, however.
You can use smart vents along with the nest thermostat, but there aren’t currently any that fully integrate to work together. Your smart vents and thermostat in this case would be working independently of each other.
These are the only viable option on the market in my opinion. They also integrate very nicely with the Ecobee SmartThermostat.
We’ll get down to what these products do in just a minute…
What Is Smart HVAC?
A Smart HVAC (Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning) System uses smart, wireless technology to communicate with other smart devices and sensors in your household or business. This allows your system to automatically adjust itself, based on a number of custom settings and schedules. The result is increased comfort, convenience and energy efficiency.
Over the past century, we’ve come a long way in controlling the temperature and humidity inside your home. As time has progressed, HVAC systems have become better, more effective and you guessed it – Smarter! These smarter devices have been made to run as part of a Smart Home system or independently of each other. The better the devices integrate with each other, the better they perform and the more money they save.
Smart HVAC Systems can pick up on changes in the weather, temperature and humidity in different rooms of your home, and even personal preferences and locations of individual household members.
Why Should I Upgrade To A Smart HVAC System?
Every purchase you make for your home is going to have its pros and cons. When it comes to Smart HVAC, the pros outweigh the cons by far.
Just like any other “smart” appliance or device in your home, Smart HVAC Systems are meant to ease your life and make it more convenient. But, unlike other smart things, these systems can do a lot more for you too. Apart from convenience, Smart HVAC Systems also help your home or commercial space run more efficiently – helping you save big on energy and electric bills.
Here are some reasons I would suggest making the leap.
It Saves Money
Who doesn’t like to save money? Sure, smart thermostats and vents can be a little expensive, but you’ll save in the long run. You can also start with just the thermostat for instance. That’s what I did. This, in itself, will start to save you money every month.
Since these systems will only run when you need them to, they limit the amount of energy that is being used. Also, think about all the times you have left your house without switching the cooling or heating system off; that’s a lot of energy wasted. If your Smart HVAC System is hooked up to a smart home controller, you can switch them off on-the-go from your phone. If you use the geofencing features, they will automatically turn off (or up, or down) when you leave the house.
Also, when it comes time to resell your home, smart appliance upgrades can increase its value. Having a Smart HVAC system installed can boost the selling price because it provides new homeowners with an energy-efficient system that they can integrate into their own devices.
Convenience and Comfort
Of course, the main point of a smart ‘anything’ is to ensure your life is more convenient and automated. When it comes to HVAC systems, the thermostat is where the magic happens. Smart thermostats can adjust temperatures automatically according to your needs and programmed preferences. This way, you don’t have to get up and manually adjust temperatures. Plus, your system can use your schedule and location to have your home comfort level adjusted before your arrival.
When it comes to comfort, Smart HVAC Systems help you create temperature zones, so each individual in the space can get a room that is the ideal temperature for them. Smart vents will help permit or limit air flows in certain areas to even the temperature. When you add smart devices like humidifiers and purifiers to your smart system, the air quality in your space is significantly improved.
One of the main selling points is energy efficiency. What that means for the environment is that your home or commercial space has less carbon emission than traditional HVAC systems making it a lot more eco-friendly.
Smart HVAC Products
Your Smart HVAC System is composed of a number of different products which (ideally) work together. At the center of your system is your Smart Thermostat. But for the most efficient homes, these smart systems don’t stop there. Smart vents, humidifiers, and purifiers are all part of the system to ensure your home is working at its optimum when it comes to energy saving.
Let’s look at a few of these…
We’ve already touched on many features included with smart thermostats, but let’s dig a little deeper. You already know that these devices do a lot more than adjust temperatures with a digital display.
First of all, smart thermostats hook up to other devices like your phone, tablet, and smart speaker. This allows you to operate them “manually” with an app or simply the sound of your voice. They also will coordinate with other climate control components in your home.
Many times you can set a preference for each member of your household. Smart sensors in each room can differentiate between house members based on their phone location. They can also use this Geofencing Technology to know that you’re approaching or leaving the house.
Oftentimes, your smart thermostats will remind you when it’s time for maintenance, such as replacing your air filter. They will also generate a report which will tell you everything you need to know about how you are consuming your energy, helping your home become as efficient and cost-saving as possible.
There are two products that I had a tough time deciding between when I was looking for a smart thermostat for my home; the Nest Learning Thermostat (view current Amazon pricing) and the Ecobee SmartThermostat (View current Amazon pricing). These aren’t your only options, but they are arguably the best two.
The Nest takes a week to learn everyone’s preferred temperature settings, and then it works automatically. This ability to program itself can help you save a lot of effort during the setup and customization process. The Nest is also compatible with Alexa, but it isn’t exactly a flawless integration. Google Home and Google Assistant users will have a much more enjoyable experience.
The Ecobee is the one I have. It has Alexa built-in, so you don’t even really need an Amazon Echo (I would recommend it though for sound quality and other features). They usually come with one extra smart sensor to monitor the conditions in a second area of the house (usually a different floor). You can add on as many smart sensors as you like for other rooms (ok, well only up to 32, but who needs that many?).
There are tons of other features. For instance, with the built-in Alexa, it also works as an intercom and plays music. For additional info, reviews and current pricing you can click the Amazon link directly above.
To understand smart vents, you need to understand what traditional vents in your home do. These vents are present in every room as part of your HVAC system. They are used to control the amount of hot or cold air that is being let into specific rooms. Traditional vents need to be manually closed or opened to control airflow in each area of the house. Since it’s the same amount of air that is running through the entire house, closing one vent will force more air out of the other vents.
Smart vents are more efficient and better working versions of their traditional counterparts. They can detect activity in a room and redirect air automatically based on where it is needed and where it is not.
Smart vents work hand-in-hand with smart thermostats as part of a centrally air-conditioned home. The thermostats control the total airflow while the vents control the amount of airflow in any particular room. These vents can be programmed and adjusted according to preference, so each individual in the house can create their desired environment. If you want to learn more about smart vents, we have a complete article on them here.
Smart Humidifiers and Air Purifiers
Though a lot of smart vents and thermostats can control humidity and air quality, independent, smart humidifiers and purifiers can also be purchased. Air quality is a major concern in homes, and these smart appliances can help you get your home’s air quality at its best.
To be clear here, whole-home humidifiers can be wired into your smart thermostat if you already have one installed. Currently, Nest and Ecobee thermostats aren’t able to control any whole-home purifiers. Either way, there are some great affordable options to add to your smart oasis.
Smart humidifiers and air purifiers can detect humidity and pollution levels in the air and work accordingly. Purifiers can help reduce allergens in the air and help you breathe cleaner, fresher air. Humidifiers work similarly, improving your air quality, making your life at home a lot more comfortable.
If you’re looking for a quality Smart Humidifier, I would go with the Prosenic Smart Humidifier (found here on Amazon). It’s compatible with both Google Home and Alexa, includes a mobile app, HEPA filter and essential oil chamber for aromatherapy.
Air purifiers are a subject all of their own. They vary in pricing a great deal and you have to figure out exactly what standards you have in a purifier. You can check out the most up to date options by clicking here.
Other Home Automated Heating & Cooling Upgrades
There are other upgrades you can make to your home to bring them one step closer to becoming a smart home. These heating and cooling devices work independently from a smart thermostat or smart vents.
WiFi Air Conditioners
WiFi air conditioners are stand-alone units that have smart capabilities. These capabilities are possible with their connection to the internet, and so to your smartphone or tablet. This allows you to have remote temperature adjustment and connection to a smart home hub.
If your home doesn’t have central AC or you have an area of the house that needs a little more help, people often use a portable AC or a Window unit. A smart air conditioner can make your life a lot easier. Since your phone is always in your hand, you will have your temperature controls with you at all times.
Some variations of these ACs have voice control and are compatible with smart home controllers like Alexa. Others have features like Geofencing, which allows the AC to know when someone is in the house or not. Even if your portable AC isn’t that smart, you can connect it to a Smart AC Controller. If you want to learn more about WiFi air conditioners, you can click here.
Smart AC Controllers
A Smart AC Controller gives you control over many portable or window units that aren’t even necessarily that smart. They are a smart replacement for your AC’s old remote. Connecting to your AC through infrared signals, they are also WiFi-compatible to help them connect to other smart devices like your smartphone or smart speaker.
One such controller is the Sensibo Sky (Found here on Amazon). This little device can convert any standard air conditioner into a smart air conditioner by connecting to WiFi and subsequently to Alexa, Google Home, or your smartphone. This device has geofencing capabilities, as I mentioned above, and can be controlled remotely as well!
Smart Window Treatments
While you’re on your quest to make your home as energy efficient as possible, don’t forget all the heat that is sucked into your home through your windows. This heat gets trapped inside your house, making your HVAC system work harder to cool it down.
Well, guess what…. There are smart options here too! Smart Windows and Electronic Window Shades work with your smart home system to control the amount of heat and light coming into your home.
This technology comes in various forms, and there are even options to convert your regular windows into smart windows with state of the art applications. Smart blinds or shades let you control the amount of light and heat you let into your home with the touch of a button – making your life more convenient and, thus, more easily energy efficient.
If there was one thing in your home that you should upgrade to smart technology, it is your HVAC system. There is no question that this is the purchase that keeps giving back. I’ll tell you this – I certainly don’t regret my smart heating and cooling system and I doubt you will either.