The “Internet of Things” (IoT) revolution is here, and it isn’t going anywhere. You can find just about any everyday item, furniture, appliance or equipment connected to the internet. Not just stationary appliances, but also vacuum cleaners, fridges, ovens, fans, lights, sound systems, televisions, and so on. By this point, it should probably be called the “Internet of Everything”.
The purpose of having an internet connected anything is to try and make it better, especially more efficient. IoT ovens can optimize the temperature and cooking time by itself, lights can be turned on or off according to a schedule that you make or by an app on your phone, washers, and dryers can send a notification to your phone that your load of laundry is ready, and so on.
HVAC systems — heating, ventilation, and air conditioning — have recently joined the IoT revolution, and it’s easy to see why. Heating, cooling, and airflow are highly important to the comfort and cost of your home, with the Department of Energy stating that they account for around 48% of energy use in an average home. Being connected to the internet to help improve its efficiency can, therefore, create massive improvements. Here’s how:
Remote Access, Monitoring & Control
In the past, it was a common story to hear someone talk about how they went on a vacation but forgot to shut off their furnace or air conditioning so they weren’t wasting energy. Or, maybe they wanted to adjust the temperature for a while and forgot to change it back before heading off for work. It was frustrating to have to deal with, and one of the big benefits of HVAC systems jumping aboard the IoT bandwagon is helping you avoid these problems.
Many internet-connected thermostats and HVAC systems now will have an app you can download on your phone, where you can check in on your home’s thermostat settings wherever you are. You could have flown halfway across the world, and as long as your phone can connect to the internet you can look at the current temperature and settings, and even shut the furnace or AC off if you forgot. Or, you can set the furnace or AC to run when you’re on your way home so it’s the perfect temperature by the time you get there.
Real-Time Maintenance & Diagnostic Alerts
Another common problem that internet-connected HVAC systems can make easier is maintenance and diagnosing issues. Some systems will be able to send you reminders to your app to replace filters or do routine maintenance checks to make sure it runs cleanly and smoothly.
For your safety, it can also run self-diagnostic tests to make sure the air is still clean and everything mechanically is working properly. If the test fails or if there is a problem, it will send you an alert that you can then inspect and repair, either by yourself or by a professional depending on how serious it is.
Being connected to the internet means that your HVAC systems can make use of another revolution: machine learning, or artificial intelligence. While being able to remotely monitor, adjust and diagnose your own system from far away on your phone is great, what’s even better is if the system can do all that by itself.
The newest and most advanced “smart” thermostats and HVAC systems are able to constantly sense changes in indoor and outdoor temperatures and weather conditions. They can also monitor your preferences, such as what rooms you use the most and at what times of the day, and then adapt itself automatically to use its energy at the absolute best possible efficiency. Businesses are investing in these kinds of systems because the scale of their systems means they have a lot to gain by the possible benefits, but you can get these smart systems in your home as well.
Improved Efficiency & Big Savings
The end result of all of this is an improvement in the energy efficiency of your home, which means you can save some money on your energy bill. How much of an improvement depends on your current system, the size, and insulation of your home, and how efficiently you already manage your thermostat.
That’s as of now, however. In the future, as the designs and functionality of internet-connected HVAC systems are themselves refined and improved, there may be an even greater potential for improved energy efficiency.
About the Author:
Aaron Bond is the co-owner of AccuServ Heating and Air Conditioning. He has extensive knowledge of hydronic and forced air systems and loves to share his knowledge and expertise with homeowners.