‘Tis the Season for Smart Heating!
With the turn of the year fast approaching and the holiday season in full swing, preparations are underway to celebrate these times with loved ones. Unfortunately, with COVID putting in place meeting restrictions and other such difficulties, the celebrations might just be a bit toned down this year, but they do not have to be any less joyous! If you’re interested in smart heating, you’re already on the right track. 😃 🎄
Heating is an essential part of the Christmas season, after all, everyone needs to be warm and comfortable to savor the moment. But constantly getting up, and tuning the heating settings is a hassle, one which no one wants at such a time – or well any time. Smart heating is a straightforward choice to avoid any discomfort and save energy when the cold is at its peak.
With Christmas around the corner, it is probably a good idea to make an investment towards smart heating and take advantage of its benefits in keeping us warm and comfortable, while also saving on energy bills. According to the US EPA, 13 billion pounds of greenhouse gas emissions could be saved if every home in the US uses smart heating equipment. Now, who doesn’t want that to happen!
Let us explore the world of smart heating!
What Is Smart Heating?
Smart heating eliminates the constant need for you to monitor and fine-tune the temperature in your home. A smart heating device does it for you – automatically!. Even though the exact mode of operation and type of smart heating device can vary, all smart devices have one thing in common: Wi-Fi connectivity. They can connect to the internet, and with the help of a mobile application, be controlled from your smartphone.
Now, you can control your heating as easily as you browse social media.
You can do this from anywhere in the world, as long as you have an internet connection. This is the essence of smart heating.
Convenience and comfort are just one part of the equation. Energy savings is the other. Depending on the exact type of device, smart heating can give 20-30% energy savings. Adaptive heating, automated temperature adjustments, and predictive controls help achieve this energy saving. As an example, a smart thermostat can observe your usage history and then automatically make schedules and adjustments to give you the utmost comfort.
6 Types of Smart Heating Devices
Smart heating is a broad term, encompassing many different types of devices and appliances that can be controlled through Wi-Fi internet connectivity. Let us see some of the major ones:
- Mini-Stat for Ductless Heat Pumps
- Smart Thermostat for Ducted Systems
- Smart Water Heater
- Smart Space Heater
- Smart Baseboard Heater
- Smart Heating Fireplaces
1. Mini-Stat for Ductless Heat Pumps
Depending on whether you have a ducted or ductless heating system, you can either go for a smart thermostat or a smart AC controller, also known as a Mini-Stat/Mini-Split thermostat (it also works with a window or portable heat pumps that come with IR remote). If you have a ducted heating system, the former is what you are looking for. A smart AC controller, or Mini-Stat, on the other hand, like the Cielo Breez Plus, works seamlessly with your ductless heat pump and lets you operate your heat pump from your smartphone. Now you can be in complete control of your mini-split, window AC, PTAC, or portable AC.
Unlike a smart thermostat for ducted systems, a smart AC controller is much easier to install and use. Simply take it out of the packaging, power it up, and you will be up and running in less than 5 minutes. As opposed to a smart thermostat, the smart AC controller does not need to be hard-wired to the heat pump. Instead, it operates through IR, similar to the remote control of the ductless heat pump. All you need to do is place it in line of sight of the ductless heat pump.
The features provided by smart AC controllers are almost similar to smart thermostats, providing geofencing, scheduling, and temperature/humidity-based triggers. Other innovative features include:
- Temperature Range Control
- Usage History
- Air Filter Status
- Smart Weekly Scheduling
With smart AC controllers, you can also create zones in your home, combining multiple ductless heat pumps into one zone. This way, you can control numerous heat pumps with only a single command instead of individually operating each heat pump. You can form zones depending on the floors of your house, sections of your office, or the lobby of your motel.
Smart Heat Pumps
Talking about making your heat pump smart, you can also opt for a smart heat pump! These heat pumps are super cool and are loaded with features, but this depends on the manufacturer and model. They are also quite expensive than conventional heat pumps.
You can make any standard heat pump smart using a mini-stat or even enhance a ‘smart heat pump’s’ functionalities. For example, some smart heat pumps may not offer geofencing or, let’s say, intelligent triggers, but only provide Wi-Fi connectivity. You can add all these missing functionalities with a smart controller at a low cost ranging from $70 to $120.
2. Smart or Programmable Thermostats for Ducted Systems
A smart thermostat provides you unparalleled comfort and convenience with mobile app controls. Able to be hooked up to almost any ducted heat pump or central heating system, a smart thermostat connects your heat pump to the internet, allowing multiple features and functionalities not previously available. Intuitive mobile apps give you heat pump controls from anywhere in the world, at any time.
A smart thermostat has different operating modes, which you can tailor to suit your own needs. Geofencing uses the heat pump according to your proximity from home. If you are nearby, the heating turns on so that you have a warm home when you arrive. The scheduling features allow you to pre-program the heating to run at certain times of the day only so that you do not have to turn the heating constantly on or off. No more getting up in the cold morning to get ready for work. Your smart thermostat will already have the room at the perfect temperature.
Also, usage history statistics provide an overview of your heat pump usage, allowing you to make decisions that can save even more energy.
Even though these thermostats can be considered a DIY device, installation can sometimes be a bit tricky, especially if your heat pump has multiple fan modes and such. It is thus a good idea to consult a professional before embarking on doing it yourself. It’s always better to be safe than sorry.
3. Smart Water Heater
A water heater is one of the most used appliances at any home.
A regular ‘dumb’ water heater has a built-in thermostat, which monitors the water temperature, and once the desired temperature reaches, the heating turns off. The heating turns on again when the temperature of the water cools down. This keeps your water temperature perfect while saving energy!
What makes a smart water heater different is the water heater’s ability to know when to turn on the heating and when to turn it off. A conventional water heater has to be turned on manually through the thermostat, and it will work to keep the temperature at the desired point as long as it is not turned off manually.
On the other hand, a smart water heater can be programmed to do these things by itself. It can be set up on a schedule and work to heat the water only in that time period. For example, you can set up a schedule for the smart water heater to heat the water an hour before you wake up in the morning so that is warm enough for a shower by the time you’re getting ready for work. This way, you do not have to keep your water heater running all through the night, saving energy.
More advanced versions of smart water heaters can even learn your behavior, accurately predicting when you would need warm water, and turn on by themselves.
This is not all. Smart water heaters can be controlled from the cozy comforts of your bedroom, or well anywhere, with the help of a smartphone app. Forget taking the dreaded trip to your basement in the cold just to operate the heater. Usage monitoring in real-time is also a plus point of these smartphone apps.
4. Smart Space Heater
Space heaters are a great addition to your heating equipment, without the extra cost. If you are looking to quickly heat a small area without spending a lot of money or waiting for a long time, then a space heater is what you should look at.
Instead of keeping the heating always running, you can turn it on only when required, thus saving energy. By having a smart space heater, you can accurately control the room temperature, as a space heater can better respond to the heating needs than a conventional house heating system.
Moreover, a smart space heater can sense the room’s carbon dioxide levels and ensure that they do not get high enough to pose a safety hazard. As with everything smart, a smartphone app is part of the package, and you can control your intelligent space heater from wherever you are, only with the tap of a few buttons.
5. Smart Baseboard Heaters
Baseboard heaters are a relatively uncommon type of heating system. These heaters are located just a few inches above the floor and are powered by two means. Conventional baseboard heaters are powered by electric current directly from the main power line, which heats electric wires within the heater and warms the air. The other type, hydronic baseboard heaters, use warm water from your water heater to circulate it through the heater and then heat the air.
Baseboard heaters do not use large amounts of electricity but can still heat large areas. You can make plain old, simple baseboard heaters into smart baseboard heaters with the help of smart thermostats. As discussed previously, thermostats are devices that regulate the temperature of a room. They help you keep the temperature exactly where you want it to be.
A smart thermostat not only does all that but automates the whole process. It connects your heating equipment to the Wi-Fi and lets you control it through your smartphone. You can program the baseboard heating to work as per a schedule or when you are close to your home. Be careful, though, while choosing a smart thermostat for your baseboard heater.
Baseboard heaters require line voltage to run, and a thermostat will require the same. If you do not want to run it offline voltage, you need a transformer and other equipment to operate the thermostat safely. Be sure to check the operating voltage of your thermostat before buying one for your baseboard heater.
6. Smart Heating Fireplaces
Fireplaces have been in the picture for as long as heating has been a requirement in homes. A fireplace serves as both a heat source and a familiar spot. It also serves as a place where a family can sit during evenings and chat about. The light and heat from a fireplace help to make the room cozy and comfortable. But they need to be controlled manually, where you have to get up and adjust the gas flow to keep the environment comfortable.
This is where smart fireplaces come into play. With smart tech, you can control your fireplace with your phone and keep the temperature always within your preferred range. You can do that without having to get up and fiddle around constantly. Most smart fireplaces also have many safety features, such as carbon dioxide detectors, motion sensors to detect liquid fuel levels, and heat output measurement devices to prevent overheat.
Whatever type of heating system you have for your home, there is a smart solution for it. Convert your old heating system into a smart heating system, and enjoy the multiple benefits this holiday season! Since this is also the sale season, you can probably make your heating smart at a discount.
Have a smart, cozy winter!