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Smart thermostats: the benefits, tips and possibilities

A smart thermostat take your lifestyle into account put together the optimal schedules for heating your home.
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A smart home is not a smart home if the energy regulation is not smartly arranged. That is why we have known for a while the smart thermostats with which the heating can be controlled in a smart (er) way. But, what exactly are the advantages of a smart thermostats, what can you do with it and how do you use the smart thermostats?

Introduction of smart thermostats

With a smart thermostats you can save a lot, not only energy and money but also effort. The idea is that a large part of the heating is automated so that you no longer have to worry about it and thus save money. However, the smart thermostats is only as smart as the lazy user; the device must of course be optimally set up and used.

In the last few years, smart thermostats have become a lot more advanced, so that they can actually mean something for you in terms of comfort and energy consumption. The smart thermostat can no longer be ignored in the smart home, but before you switch, it is important to know everything about the benefits and possibilities.

Internet and wireless control

The ‘ smart home ‘ and ‘the internet of things’ are concepts that are inextricably linked. More and more devices are connected to the internet, both indoors and outdoors. Nowadays you can connect almost any device in the house to the internet and have it communicate with other devices, even with a simple adapter / plug. This link with the internet creates endless possibilities for wireless control and communication, both with the user and between the devices themselves. The smart thermostat is also linked to the internet and can therefore communicate with your computer, smartphone or tablet, for example. On these devices you get the possibility to set, view and adjust almost everything.

Who is the smart thermostats for?

The smart thermostat is actually for everyone who has central heating. People with district heating and / or underfloor heating, for example, are somewhat limited in their choice and must therefore read up on the possibilities of the different products. But, in general, the majority of the Dutch can purchase a smart thermostat.

However, there are several options for purchasing a smart thermostat. You can choose a thermostat that comes with a subscription for use, something that is especially the case when you purchase the device through an energy company. You can also purchase a smart thermostat separately, often also via energy companies, so you only pay the purchase amount. There are even offers from energy companies that give you a free smart thermostat with a long-term contract. The prices therefore also vary considerably; from free or a few euros per month to 300 euros for a separately purchased device. We will shortly list for you which products there are and by whom they are offered. but it is therefore important that you know what you are getting and especially what you are paying or continuing to pay for. Also note that installation costs are often added. In most cases, we recommend that you purchase a smart thermostat separately so that you can always switch energy suppliers and keep control.

Control and monitor with apps

In our view, a smart thermostat is only really smart when you can communicate wirelessly with the device, in most cases with an application that you can install on your smartphone or tablet. Almost every thermostat has its own application, sometimes via the energy company.

Numerous functions are accessible through the app, including setting and checking the temperature, creating schedules, viewing your consumption, activating zones and of course switching the heating on or off completely. The exact functionality you can use depends on the thermostat you choose.

How the smart thermostats gets to know you

A smart thermostat thinks along with you, and in some cases for you. The aim is for the thermostat to respond to and take your lifestyle into account, and based on this, put together the most optimal schedules for heating your home. This should of course ultimately result in lower energy consumption.

Getting to know the user is possible in several ways, depending on the thermostat you are going for. With almost all of them, it is possible to keep control yourself and thus determine via the app for your smartphone or tablet when the heating is switched on and at what temperature it is set. However, we naturally want to worry about it as little as possible and smart thermostats are equipped with useful functions for this.

Several smart thermostats come with a function that checks whether someone is at home, and based on this it is determined whether the heating should be turned on or turned down. This can be done in two ways. The first method uses a presence sensor that detects whether there are people in the house. These sensors are already so smart (on some thermostats) that they can tell the difference between a person and a pet. As soon as the sensor detects that there is no one else in the house, for example after 30 minutes of inactivity, the heating is automatically turned down. The Essent and Nest E-Thermostat are examples of thermostats that have this. Nest and Anna can even put together their own schedule based on the information that the sensor transmits,

The other way to detect if someone is in the house is geo-fencing. For this, the location of your smartphone is used (via the app). The thermostat sees the location of the various smartphones in the family and can use this to determine whether the heating can be lowered or should be switched on. Of course you are in control of the exact action that is performed as soon as you enter or leave the house. The ThermoSmart and Anna thermostats, for example, make use of this.

However, that is not all, because some thermostats can be integrated with other services so that you can still perform functions when you enter or leave the house (or perform any measurable activity). For this you can use the popular IFTTT , an app that allows you to determine for yourself what a particular action will result in. Nest and Honeywell, among others, support IFTTT.

A function that more and more smart thermostats have is the zone control. With this you can determine the temperature per zone or have it determined. If you sleep, you probably only want a pleasant temperature in the bedroom. When you are at work, the study must be heated. Each room will have its own thermostat for this (often in the form of a radio button) and that costs extra money. In addition, the ‘central’ thermostat must support this. The Nest, SmartHome and Honeywell EvoHome, among others, offer this possibility.

Insight of Smart thermostats into your energy consumption

With a smart thermostat you naturally also want to see how much you use and how much you ultimately save compared to using without a smart thermostat. Most smart thermostats give you the option to view consumption through the application or a web interface, or even show how much you have saved. For example, Nest shows by means of a green leaf on the thermostat that you are saving energy.

However, one important point must be made here. In most cases it is an indication. With the exception of a few thermostats, such as Toon from Eneco, there is no communication with the smart energy meter, so that the thermostat can never determine exactly how much energy is being used. It is therefore good to know that you are presented with an indication and only have a definite answer about your savings when comparing the energy bills.

How much energy do you save?

The most important question is perhaps; how much energy (and money) do I save with such a smart thermostat? Manufacturers claim to be able to cut your energy bill by 15-25 percent, but it all depends largely on the user and his or her usage pattern.

If you are already energy-conscious and therefore use the heating in a controlled manner, the savings may be 100 euros on an annual basis. If you are someone who does not look after it and always has the heating on, this can amount to hundreds of euros on an annual basis. Of course, this depends on the size of your house, the number of rooms, the family composition, etc. However, it is always advisable to go for a smart thermostat because you can save money, provided you have the time for it. takes to get to know the thermostat and let the thermostat get to know you, certainly. In addition, all additional digital functions and possibilities are of course welcome in your smart home.

Integration with your smart home

Speaking of that smart home; some smart thermostats offer integration with other smart home products. They can communicate with it and therefore often operate it. Above we have already discussed the example of IFTTT (If this, then that); an app that allows you to set actions using ‘recipies’ (if this, then that). IFTTT is supported by Honeywell and Nest thermostats, among others, so you can, for example, have your lights turn on when the thermostat comes on. This will bring you into an illuminated and warm house. You can also make the temperature inside dependent on the temperature outside.

There is also direct integration with various smart home products from other manufacturers. Eneco’s Toon thermostat and the Nest offer direct integration with the Hue system from Philips, so that you can also control your lighting via the thermostat and app. Nest also offers integration with its own smoke detectors and CO detectors, which can also be connected to the Honeywell thermostats. In the coming years, the integration with other smart devices in the home will only increase, so that everything is connected to each other.

The future of the smart thermostats

Smart thermostats and smart home systems in general aren’t just for now and what you can do with them now. The big advantage of being smart is that they will also be important to you in the future. Smart systems can be provided with updates relatively easily and the services behind them are constantly being expanded. The possibilities are endless, which is why manufacturers of these products (and developers of services like IFTTT) are working hard on new ways to increase the convenience in your smart home. Integration and compatibility are of great importance here; as long as there are not dozens of closed standards, everything can eventually communicate with each other. You can in any case assume that popular services and platforms will be supported by most manufacturers.

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