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What You Should Know About Wi-Fi Enabled Thermostats


Once again, I’m going to relinquish my column to guest blogger, MK Russell & Abbott President Chris Hurley. He’s pretty opinionated when it comes to home comfort, so I’ll lend him my spot one more time (but I do expect an extra treat for my generosity). Chris has been in the HVAC business for more than 20 years. He’s a state-licensed heating and AC contractor, as well as being certified in design, fabrication, layout, and installation of forced-air heating and cooling systems. Here’s what Chris has to say about Wi-Fi enabled thermostats:

Gone are the days of the simple-function thermostat with two options: up for heat and down for cool. Today’s smart technology has given thermostats the ability to “learn” your preferred temperature settings, and to automatically adjust them when you’re away. With a smart phone, you can also turn on lights, adjust a security camera to check on your kids or pets, lock/unlock doors, and adjust your lawn sprinklers. Love ‘em or hate ‘em, Wi-Fi enabled thermostats are here to stay.

The Bad News

As an HVAC expert, I have seen Wi-Fi enabled thermostats improve drastically over the past decade. However, before you purchase one at your home improvement store, there are two major considerations:

  • Cost: Professionally installed Wi-Fi enabled thermostats with advanced features range from $500–$800. You will also incur the cost of $10 or more per month with monitoring systems.
  • Voids Equipment Warranty: Check with your heating/air contractor first. Replacing the thermostat that was installed when you purchased your system usually voids the warranty on the heating/cooling equipment. This is because improper installation or incompatibility can lead to your system not functioning to manufacturers’ specifications. If not professionally installed, it can also cause your utility bills to increase unnecessarily.

I see all kinds of thermostats at trade shows before they are widely known. While most are good, I caution customers about buying the kind that is designed to learn your habits. It actually uses an algorithm and a third party computer system, and frankly, seems to have a mind of its own when it comes to your home comfort. This type may not only damage your equipment, but can be difficult to override. If you have specific questions about this kind of thermostat, just give me a call at (865) 302-3221. I can also recommend some good, basic-control Wi-Fi-enabled thermostats.

The Good News

Now, if a compatible Wi-Fi enabled thermostat is selected and installed professionally, it can be a very helpful piece of technology. I have some customers with second or vacation homes who use these smart thermostats to check on their property. Other customers rely on thermostats like this in their elderly parents’ homes because if the power goes out, the son or daughter receives a message immediately. Still others use the camera function to check on a babysitter.

In addition to the Wi-Fi enabled thermostats with all the bells and whistles, MK Russell & Abbott offers reliable, easy-to-operate programmable thermostats that won’t break the bank. If you are thinking about replacing your thermostat, give me a call. I can help determine what’s right for you.