Smart HVAC Systems

We all want to have the most energy-efficient and comfortable home possible. For most people, this means having an HVAC system that can deliver cool or warm air when you need it. But unfortunately, many systems are outdated, wasting energy and sending air to rooms that don’t need it.

Smart HVAC systems can reduce this problem. Using a combination of software and hardware, homes can fully utilize every bit of energy, sending air to a specific room, and treating each section of the home in a strategic manner. Connectivity and smart systems are changing our world, and HVAC systems are along for the ride.

girl using smart phone to run HVAC system

How Does a Smart HVAC System Work?

Smart HVAC is a very broad term that has not been well defined, and it can refer to a variety of different technologies and strategies that regulate the heating and air conditioning system, eventually making them more energy efficient.

For example, smart HVAC systems can include a thermostat that is connected to a smartphone app. Using this app, homeowners can make adjustments to the temperature, even if they are at the office. The app can also work the opposite direction, sending information from the thermostat to the app; information that can include real-time data such as the current internal temperatures or upcoming maintenance needs.

There are also systems with wall-mounted motion detectors. These detectors can send information to the thermostat, telling the unit to increase temperatures if someone is in the room. There are even systems that can be installed in your home that will automatically adjust the heating and cooling vents, cutting off flow to one room and increasing flow to another.

Essentially, any product or innovation that uses software and applications to create more efficient use of a homes furnace or air conditioner can be considered a smart HVAC system.


Benefits of a Smart HVAC System

There are many different reasons to install a smart HVAC system. The main motivation for the vast majority of users is to reduce heating and cooling costs and make the system more energy efficient.

There are many numbers floated around for various forms of smart devices, but the European Portal for Energy Efficiency in Buildings says that adoption of building automation in HVAC systems can reduce energy consumption by as much as 27% in households.

By carefully monitoring and controlling your household temperature and humidity, you will save resources, which is obviously good for your bank account but also good for the environment. You will be able to make informed, strategic decisions based on information gathered by the smart system, and you can control not just the temperature, but where air is flowing. These small adjustments can add up to major savings over a month or a year.

Convenience is another motivation for installing these systems. Using connected devices to control the HVAC in your home, you can make adjustments to the temperature long before you arrive home. Thanks to the mobile device, be it a phone, tablet, or computer, you’ll be able to set the house to the specific temperature you desire, increasing your overall comfort while allowing for a greater degree of comfort. Convenience also comes from not having to make manual adjustments or check the systems yourself. For example, you can have a smart system that automatically adjusts vents; no need to do it manually. You won’t have to check the filter or inspect the system, as all of these tasks can be handled by the smart technology.


The Challenge of Adding Smart HVAC to an Existing System

The adoption of smarts into HVAC systems is largely being driven by new construction. When you build a new home or commercial building, it is relatively easy to install a smart HVAC system, as you are basically working with a blank slate.

However, if you want to retrofit an existing home with a smart heating and cooling system, it can be more of a challenge. The rewards of energy savings and convenience, however, make it a great choice for many homeowners.

To install a new system, you first need to identify any outdated HVAC controls and systems in your home. This can include a variety of items, such as the furnace, air conditioner, vents, and thermostat. Create a list of equipment that is currently being used by your system, and compare this equipment to newer models. This information can be useful when consulting with HVAC experts.

Next, you will want to complete an energy audit on the home or building. This will be completed by a trained expert who should be licensed and certified. This professional will be able to help you understand where and how energy is being lost, and what steps you can take to control the situation. With their guidance, you can now make decisions on which systems and technologies you should install in your home.

Unfortunately, not all HVAC systems can be made smart or intelligent, at least not yet. However, there are numerous systems and components to modern HVAC that can be enhanced.

For example, you can upgrade the compressor and air-handling system. The compressor is essentially an electric pump that compresses the refrigerant, and the air handler blows air over the heating and cooling coils. Both use significant energy, so it’s important they are used efficiently, which can be achieved through upgraded components, as well as running the parts only when they are needed. By installing a system that only responds when demand for the parts is needed.

Ventilation and air supply components can also be optimized through smart technology. These systems direct air to the appropriate location, delivering cool or warm air where and when it’s needed. Controlling the flow of air through software connected to vents will increase the efficiency and ensure air is only flowing to rooms that need it.

Thermostats are the other major advancement. In the past, thermostats merely read the temperature, giving you information so you can make adjustments to the system. Now they do more than just read temperatures; they also deliver information on humidity levels, and can even sense occupancy and other variables that impact the internal temperature of a home. In addition to advanced sensors, thermostats also have software that allows the unit to make decisions for room temperature and air flow.


Zoned Heating and Cooling: The Next Innovation in HVAC?

One of the most important innovations in the HVAC system is zoning, which, combined with smart applications and software, will reduce energy waste while ensuring a home maintains comfortable temperatures in the right areas.

A typical home, which is not zoned, controls the temperature of the entire home, treating the house or building as a single unit. If the thermostat, usually placed near the center of the house, senses that the temperature has dropped, the HVAC system will send warm air to every room in the house, from the kitchen to the bathrooms to the living room to the unoccupied guest bedroom. Zoning, however, works to make the house more efficient by strategically dividing the home and treating each zoned area differently, often using a sensor or settings for each zone.

A zoned system can be adjusted to reflect numerous variable, including room use, personal preferences, and location in the house. Essentially, zoning helps send heat (or cool air) where it is needed, when it is needed.

The advantages of zoning a home include saving on energy costs, greater control of temperature, and enhanced comfort throughout the home. For example, you can set the zone in your bedroom to be warmer if you prefer sleeping in a warm room, while you can allow the kitchen to be cooler, perhaps to compensate for a stove and oven. You may also have a family member who prefers cooler temperatures; in that case the zone for their bedroom can be set to their needs while other zones can maintain a warmer setting.

Typically, the zoning is divided floor by floor. The first floor or ground level will be one zone, while the second floor will be another.


What to Look for in a Smart HVAC System

These systems can significantly enhance the efficiency and affordability of your home’s heating and air conditioning, but they are not all the same. To fully maximize the benefits of these systems, you need to have the right features and benefits.
These are a few of the things you should look for in a smart HVAC system:


Connectivity and Remote Access

Perhaps the most essential of all aspects, your smart HVAC system needs to include complete connectivity and remote access through your mobile devices. Whether you are at work, school, or on the road (not driving, of course!), you should be able to make adjustments to the HVAC system, such as turning down the temperature or increasing the air flow.


House Zoning

While not essential, it helps if the new HVAC system is equipped with zoning in the home. Zoning increases efficiency by allowing for different settings in different sections of the home. House zones can be divided by rooms, but they are most commonly divided by floors, such as different zones for the basement, first, and second floor. This is an important function, and although your home can get by without it, it will significantly increase the efficiency of your home.


Easy-to-Use Interface

Whether you are controlling the HVAC and cooling systems from your smartphone, computer, a sensor, or directly on the smart thermostat, you should has an interface that is simple, clear, and usable. The technology is still being developed, so you may come across systems that are either complicated or too hard to use. Look at reviews and talk with experts in the industry to find a system with an easy-to-use interface.


Affordable Installation

Regardless of efficiency, you need to have an HVAC system that is affordable. Today you can easily spend tens of thousands of dollars upgrading your home’s heating and air conditioning system, so you’ll need to weigh the potential benefits against the costs.

When making this analysis, you’ll want to estimate the total costs of installation or upgrades and compare them against the savings. You may find that certain upgrades, when used properly, will pay for themselves in a few years, while others may take decades.

Of course, if you are highly motivated to increase efficiency and reduce energy consumption, regardless of cost, you may simply upgrade your system without spending too much time estimating the costs. Most people, however, have budgets that need to be considered before making a purchase.


Automatic Updates

Most software comes with automatic updates, and this can be a crucial part of your smart HVAC and cooling systems. Check to see if the app you are getting for your home will be upgradable, and what the process will be to upgrade the software when the time comes.


Installing Smart HVAC Systems: What are the Costs?

As with any project that you complete in your home, you need to check the costs before agreeing to the upgrades. The same goes for a smart HVAC system. While these systems can save money on your electrical bills, there is an initial cost that needs to be considered first.

Unfortunately, finding reliable information on the costs of an entire smart HVAC system is quite difficult, largely because there are so many different technologies and softwares that you can use. We can, however, look at available information to get a better idea of the costs.

According to Fixr, the typical thermostat costs about $200 to $250, including installation costs. However, if you opt for a smart thermostat, you can expect to pay as much as $400 more. This cost may seem prohibitive, but if you consider the potential savings that come from using a smart HVAC system, you may find it’s worth the price.


Bottom Line: Are People Using Smart HVAC Systems?

So, after all the innovations to create smart HVAC systems, are people actually using them?

The ultimate test of these products will be, after all, whether or not consumers find them useful and worth the significant investment. According to a report in The News, there are strong signs that people are actually bringing these technologies into their homes.

The article cites an industry executive who says that 36% of homeowners are familiar with smart thermostats, and that 28% of people have expressed an interest in purchasing this technology over the following year. Despite the general willingness among consumers to adopt the technology, the article states that only 15% of households currently own a smart thermostat, so there is room for growth.

So the percentage of people currently using this is low, but that’s okay. With any new technology, there will be early adopters who eagerly use the products and services. Once the early users implement the products more, you will see developers make changes to improve the products, leading to greater adoption rates.

One of the positive signs, according to the article, is that more builders are choosing to install these technologies into their new construction. This will lead to an increase in the adoption of smart HVAC technology.


Improve Your Home with Smart HVAC and Air Purification

Many people will find a smart HVAC system extremely beneficial. They can increase efficiency, reduce energy waste, and make the home more comfortable and convenient. With a few swipes on a smart phone, homeowners can control their HVAC output, including temperature settings in different rooms, as well as air flow throughout the house.

Like air purifiers, smart HVAC systems will be an essential part of a home’s air quality. To reduce air pollution in your home, make sure you have the best air filtration, including a top-quality HEPA filter from Oransi.
Discover Which Air Purifier Is Right For You

Discover Which Air Purifier Is Right For You

In just 3 simple steps you'll find the right air purifier for your needs.
Let's Get Started