My wife and I live in a multi-story townhouse built in the 1940′s. During the summer, electricity powers our central AC unit and in the cold winter months, we are kept warm by a four year old high-efficiency, natural gas heater. So what do we use as a central command unit to manage our household temperature and keep our energy bills low?
The wall mounted device we use has a 7 day calendar with 4 possible set points on each of those days. It works great, dropping the temperatures at night when we’re all snuggled into our blankets and firing up the heater in the morning right before we jump out of bed. Somehow the incentive to be ‘early to rise’ increases with each point on the thermometer
The only time I wished for a little more than this programmable thermostat offers is when we were away on our honeymoon. I’d forgotten to turn the temperature down and had to get a friend to drive across town to do it. Why couldn’t I just pull up an app on my iPhone and turn the heat down remotely? Well, it turns out there are some devices that let you do just that.
- The EcoBee lets you change your thermostat settings any place you can get an internet connection. They even have an iPhone app! But the price tag is a bit steep.
- HomeWorks’ Radio Thermostat makes one that seems to do everything the EcoBee does for 1/3 the price. They also have a mobile app for your iPhone or Android phone which is pretty cool. Imagine you’re lying in bed and want to adjust the temp by one or two degrees? Just reach over, grab your cell phone and it’s as good as done.
- And last, but not least, the Nest thermostat looks like a promising device (not publicly available yet). It ‘intuitively learns’ your heating and cooling requirements and adjusts the schedule based on your inputs. It is also WiFi enabled and the interface on their iPhone app looks pretty nifty.
Installing these devices can be a little tricky, so I would recommend either hiring a qualified electrician, or getting some electrician training before attempting to install it yourself.
By the way, as I was just finishing up this post, I noticed Pennsylvania’s UGI Gas company is offering a chance to win a programmable thermostat. Simply read and comment on the most recent post on their blog ‘The UGI Connection‘.
So, what master control system does your home use to control your HVAC needs? Drop a comment below and share your ideas.