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What You Should Know before You Buy a Wireless Thermostat

thermostat-operationHere’s something important I’ve learned in my years as an HVAC dog (aside from which couch in the office is best for napping): HVAC work is about the big picture but also about the tiniest details. A technician needs to know how powerful an air conditioner or heater needs to be to provide proper comfort (Big Picture) but also have a grasp on how much difference a thermostat model can make to system performance (the details).

Admittedly, a thermostat isn’t a “detail.” It’s essential to communicating to the HVAC system. But we’ve often discovered customers looking at the thermostat as a cool doodad or gizmo and they want the fanciest one because it will do the best job. However, it just doesn’t work that way. There are some important things to understand before purchasing a wireless thermostat for your heating and air conditioning system in Maryville, TN.

Wireless Thermostat Benefits

In the olden days, thermostats worked in one way: push the lever up for heat, and down for cool. But the new wave of technology has thermostats that can “learn” from homeowners’ temperature settings. The thermostat takes the data to create a program that automatically adjusts the temperature to the homeowners’ preferences while they’re away.

You can access a wireless thermostat using a smart phone, tablet, or other Wi-Fi enabled device. This allows you to adjust temperatures before you come home. You do more remotely as well: turn on the lights, check on kids and pets using a security camera, lock and unlock doors, even turn on the lawn sprinklers. (Don’t do it if there’s a dog on your lawn! We hate surprise sprinklers!)

However…

This Isn’t the Whole Story

Before you run out to purchase one of these “wonder devices,” there are other things to know about Wi-Fi thermostats.

First, cost. A professionally installed Wi-Fi thermostat with top features can cost $500–$800. You can also expect $10+ charges each month if you have monitoring systems.

Second, always check with your heating and air contractor first because if you replace the thermostat that came installed with your HVAC system, it might void the equipment warranty. Many people don’t realize this! There’s a good reason this rule is in place. An improper installation or an issue with incompatibility can cause the system to fail to function to manufacturer’s specifications. It can also cause a rise in your utility bills if it isn’t installed professionally.

Chris Hurley, our owner here at Russell & Abbott, advises customers to be cautious about “smart” thermostats that develop programs based on how customers use them. These smart thermostats use an algorithm and third-party computer system—and often seem to have their own mind about home comfort that isn’t in line with the rest of the equipment. These thermostats can damage the HVAC system and are tough to override. (That’s right, movie fans, IT’S THE EVIL SUPERCOMPUTER!) If you have questions about this type of thermostat, please give us a call and let us recommend some good alternatives.

Thermostat Choices That Work

A Wi-Fi thermostat that’s professionally selected and installed can provide great benefits for a home. Here’s an example from our client files: we have customers who own second or vacation homes, and Wi-Fi thermostats lets them check-up remotely on their property. Other good uses include checking up on a babysitter or finding out immediately if the power goes out when there are elderly people at home alone.

If you’re worried about costs, we offer excellent programmable thermostats that are easy to operate and reliable—and with attractive price tags.

The bottom line: Call us before you purchase a wireless thermostat. We’re here to see you save money, protect your equipment, and get the right unit.

Russell & Abbott provides residential and commercial HVAC services serving Maryville, Knoxville, Alcoa, Blount County, Knox County and Loudon County.

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