New Thermostat Technology : The future is now

Wireless and ‘smart’ technologies top the list of key thermostat innovations.

Since the first electric room thermostat was invented in 1883, it has seen few changes. For many years the thermostat was just a dial on the wall. When programmable thermostats started making their way into homes and businesses, they did little to save the users money on energy because they were too difficult to program. Over the past five years, thermostats have made a giant leap into the future. Not only are they easier to program, but they can be programmed from anywhere through Internet access.

Todd Peppers of Peppers Heating & Air in Conyers, GA, explains how wireless technology has made his thermostat installations easier, “Wireless thermostats have become a great asset not only for the homeowner but also for the installer. We have used many wireless thermostats for systems where we are adding air conditioning to homes that have steam or hot water heat because of the ease of not having to run wires. That is also great for systems where we are adding zoning.”

Always Connected — Anytime, Anywhere

Total connectivity is the major trend with thermostats today. “Remote monitoring via an Internet-connected device allows communicating thermostat alterations simply not possible five years ago. “Communicating controls” have allowed homeowners to have advanced access to the functionality and performance of the central heating and cooling systems. New technology thermostats, like American Standard Smart WI-FI Thermostat, give reminders to change filters as well as fault warnings. Maintenance reminders are now standard features, not optional extras.”

With controls like that, consumers can have a truly connected home where they can not only check in on their HVAC system and control the system from most web-enabled devices, but also control door locks, window blinds, security systems, stream video, and receive alerts from various sensors. The remote access of today’s control gives homeowners much more interface than just controlling heating and cooling.

What’s Next?

The trend in thermostat technology continues to move towards wireless options. The more control customers have in their hands, the more options for remote monitoring will become available.

Predictions on what the industry can expect in the next few years: “More homeowners will connect to their central heating and cooling systems remotely. Some predictions suggest that more than 50% of all traffic on the Internet will be from mobile devices in just a couple of years. As mobile technology advances, heating and cooling system controls will offer more features and options on a concurrent basis. The ability to have complete control over your indoor environment — even when you aren’t there — is going to be very popular,”

Another option may be that the smart meters will start connecting to the smart grid. New systems have the ability to incorporate ‘smart metering’ capability and use that data for a variety of uses, including aggregated load management and demand response. As more residential smart meters are rolled out across North America, there will obviously be more opportunities for direct communication between residential thermostats and the utility, but it will remain a challenge to find a workable proposition for the homeowner.”