Special Financing for 18 Months with Approved Credit
What Are Smart Thermostats?

23 Mar 2021

Author: Jeff O'Hara


An automatic device for regulating temperature. 
In the HVAC world, there are three types of thermostats currently in use.


In use since the 1600s, mechanical thermostats use sensors to monitor the temperature of a room, and when a pre-set temperature is reached, engage either a furnace or air conditioner. Whatever appliance the thermostat activates will remain on until either a “high set” temperature (for furnaces) or “low set” temperature (air conditioners) is reached. When this desired temperature is reached, the selected appliance will be turned off. 

From the 1930s until the early 1990s, the thermometer portion of most thermostats used liquid mercury as a conductive to activate switches. The US government banned mercury switches in 2006 due to the damage their presence can cause to our lungs and kidneys (with direct, prolonged contact), as well as the negative effect liquid metal waste has on our environment. 


Originally introduced in the early 1980s, the programmable thermostat was the first logical step towards today’s “smarter” thermostats. Programmable thermostats were often enormous, clunky boxes that hung on the wall, displaying time, temperature, and maybe the date on a dim LCD screen. These early programmable models allowed the homeowner to determine what time the heat or air conditioning would start and stop running, regardless of anyone being home. 

Early programmable thermostats lacked substantial technological advances, relying on analog timers and mechanical switches to regulate comfort.  


For complete interaction with your home’s heating and air conditioning systems, you need to step up to a smart thermostat. The critical difference between programmable thermostats and smart thermostats is the inclusion of wi-fi connectivity and apps you install on your phone or tablet to control the system.

Basic smart thermostats offer entry-level technology for those who aren’t quite ready for all the bells and whistles; the Honeywell Home T5 ($ 119) allows for basic temperature controls and on/off programming through a simple-to-use smartphone app. 

Why Would I Want a Smart Thermostat?

For the same reasons you would want a smartphone, or a smart shower, or smart car, or just plain old smarts; intelligence makes things easier. Smart thermostats don’t merely control your heating and air conditioning systems; they learn your patterns and preferences. You can regulate the comfort of your home with simple voice commands, whether you’re in the house or half a world away. Smart thermostats offer a new world of controlled comfort and convenience, as well as enhanced energy savings. 

What Else Can a Smart Thermostat Do?

Adding motion sensors to your smart thermostat allows it to know when you’re home or if the house is empty, adjusting the atmosphere accordingly. Having a thermometer in each room connected to your smart thermostat can activate heating or cooling one room at a time, by zone, or the entire house, allowing your HVAC system to work less, saving energy. Program or remotely command your air conditioning to come on while you’re on the way home from work. The possibilities are almost unlimited! 

Who Makes the Best Smart Thermostat?

Currently, the “brand to beat” is the Ecobee Smart Thermostat, which comes in with a price tag of $250 (before installation) to go along with its various features. Smart Sensor Technology knows when you’re home or away, learns your occupancy patterns, and creates a schedule of heating and cooling based on that data. Control your Ecobee with Amazon Alexa, Google Home, or use the Ecobee App on your phone or tablet to control and monitor all features of your HVAC system.

Smart technology has taken its time to fully realize itself in the home comfort market, with compelling entries from Honeywell and Google out there as well. Think of adding a smart thermostat to your home, and marvel at the newest technology that is good for both your wallet and the environment. 

Call Nick’s Air Conditioning today about installing a new Smart Thermostat or whole-house HVAC system. Nick’s has been in Houston since 1979, and after over forty years in business, we understand that excellent customer service is the most crucial aspect of what we do. Nick’s only sends licensed and experienced professionals to your home or answers any questions you may have by phone.

Call us today. We’re on the Way. 

Recent Post

Schedule an Appointment

This will close in 0 seconds