5 Ways to Help Your Smart Home Heat and Cool More Efficiently

Reader Contribution by Jennifer Tuohy and Home Depot

Motorized shades can work with your smart home to reduce solar gain in your home.

I recently wrote about how smart home technology can help your home save energy. Chief among these energy-saving tips was installing a smart thermostat. A Wi-Fi-connected programmable thermostat can save you as much as 30 percent on your HVAC’s energy use. However, the potential to save money on your heating and cooling doesn’t end there. One of the biggest benefits of smart devices and the Internet of Things is the potential for integration. When these devices work together, you can create a smart home that actively and intelligently works to help you save energy.

Products such as connected thermostats, blinds and lighting can team up to automatically adjust your smart home system to achieve optimal energy efficiency. Here are a few options you can implement in your own home.

Install Motorized Blinds

On their own, motorized blinds are a simple way to cut down on the energy used to heat and cool a home. The convenience of being able to press a button and have all your shades close or open to cut down on solar gain or welcome in the warmth of the sun makes it more likely you’ll do it on a regular basis and thereby use less energy, keeping your home comfortable.

With the advent of the smart home, however, motorized blinds can be programmed to automatically adjust themselves even when you’re not there. Set the south-facing window coverings to open and close based on time of day, and you won’t even have to think about it. Plus, by having all your shades shut at sunset, you don’t have to worry about the day’s heat escaping through the exposed glass.

Connect your motorized blinds to a smart thermostat and the thermostat can actually tell them when to open and close based on the ambient temperature of the room and the weather outside. That way, it won’t need to turn your HVAC on, and the shades can do some of the hard work without burning unnecessary energy.

Wi-Fi-connected fans can work with your HVAC system to improve its efficiency while keeping you comfortable.

Use Smart Fans

A smart fan can connect to smart thermostats and help control the temperature in your home. For example, a Haiku fan with SenseME technology paired with a Nest Thermostat can adjust automatically, switching between its seasonal settings based on the temperature sent from the thermostat. It can also adjust its speed as temperatures rise, allowing you to increase your thermostat set point and still feel just as cool. During winter months, the fan can switch direction to slowly push warm air down from your ceiling, reducing your heater’s workload without creating a draft.

Consider Smart Vents

Smart vents have built-in sensors that wirelessly communicate to each other and your smart thermostat to regulate and redirect airflow to where it’s needed so your HVAC system doesn’t overwork. They also act as room sensors (see below) that tell your thermostat if you’ve left the house, letting it safely reduce its energy use.

Temperature and occupancy sensors can tell your thermostat where you are and if the room is at the right temperature.

Use Sensors to Control Energy Use

Some smart thermostats can work with external sensors to adjust the temperature so that one room isn’t left too cold or too hot. For example, the Ecobee3 thermostat comes with a sensor that you can place in a room that has temperature fluctuations to help even out the temperature of the whole home. You can also use the sensors’ built-in occupancy detectors to avoid overcooling or overheating your house. The sensors “follow you” throughout the home, making sure that the room you are in is the one that’s at the optimal temperature.

Want the heating to turn off when you leave the house?Connect your smartphone to your smart thermostat and let geolocation and IoT do the rest.

Sync Your Smartphone with Your Thermostat

With a smart home hub such as Wink or Samsung’s Smart Things in your home, you can connect your smartphone to your thermostat and have it automatically set to an energy saving temperature when you leave, then turn back to a more comfortable one when you come back home. You simply connect your phone to your hub, then it uses geolocation to determine if you are home or away and adjusts the thermostat’s temperature respectively.

A few smart thermostats including Nest, Ecobee3 and Honeywell’s Lyric, can do this on their own without the need for a separate hub.

Smart Makes Sense

Bringing smart technology into your home can increase the convenience of everyday life. In the case of controlling energy in the home, this type of convenience can also cut out waste, allowing us to tread with a lighter footprint on our planet each and every day.

An award-winning freelance journalist,Jennifer Tuohy has 15 years’ experience in newspapers, magazines, marketing and online content. She writes on a variety of subjects, but her passion lies with technology, sustainability and the intersection of the two. Jennifer began her career at London’s Daily Telegraph and has written for a number of lifestyle publications and newspapers. For more information on  window treatmentsthat can impact energy savings, visit HomeDepot.com. Read all of her MOTHER EARTH NEWS postshere.

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