How Does a Smart Thermostat Help My Furnace?

A smart thermostat helps your furnace and your overall heating system provide better comfort by providing more accurate readings, anticipating changes, and allowing you to make changes remotely. And, when you pair one with a variable refrigerant flow system like Daikin, you get even more benefits.

Your heater and your thermostat work closely together to make your home comfortable. The temperature gauge tells the heater to turn on when it gets too cold.

Then, of course, the heater circulates warm air throughout the house.

If we’re splitting hairs, a traditional furnace uses electricity, gas or oil to generate heat. A variable refrigerant flow system transfers that thermal energy from one place to another.

That distinction will come into play a little later.

But for now, let’s get back to the thermostats. In this blog, we’re looking at those latest and greatest gauges: Your Ecobees, Nests, etc.

We’ll get into how they work, what makes them different from earlier models, and how they keep your home comfortable while lowering your energy bills.

Smart Thermostats vs. Digital Thermostats

Digital and smart thermostats both have digital readouts and some programming capabilities. Neither uses mercury to gauge the temperature. But, smart thermostats are more accurate than digital, and especially analog models.They also offer many more features to keep your bills low and your home more comfortable.

Before we get into those features, let’s talk about more accurate readings and why they’re important.

One of the most significant improvements over the years has been how these small appliances gauge the temperature of your home and act accordingly.

Improving Accuracy — And Why It’s Important

Without getting technical, the first jump was from analog models using mercury. Digital models measured electrical resistance to get a more accurate reading.

Today’s models use even more sophisticated sensors and algorithms. Part of that means they’re sending better information to your furnace. That makes a difference.

The way conventional HVAC systems work is that they course-correct the temperature when it deviates too far from your setting.

If the heating system gets bad readings, however, it’s going to work harder than it should. That happens if the temperature drops faster than the gauge recognizes. Then the system plays catch-up.

Or, the temperature is right, but the gauge hasn’t figured that out yet.

The better readings and communication between the two appliances, the more comfortable you feel. And, the less you spend.

Features and Benefits of Smart Thermostats

Now, let’s get into the things these new models do that even the best digital ones can’t. Specifically, they can:

  • Link to your phone, laptop or tablet
  • Let you change the temperature remotely
  • Learn your schedule and adjust on its own
Let’s see how these play out.

Link to your smartphone, laptop or tablet

Linking your screens is much more than a parlor trick. The access also gives you reports on how much energy you’re using. And, it will alert you to any sudden problems with your system.

Let you change the temperature remotely

At best, you could program your old digital model to turn the heat up or down when you weren’t there. Now, you can do it on the fly.

Sometimes, this gets marketed to forgetful people: Didn’t turn down the heat down when you left the house? Just do it from your phone!

But, there’s more to it than that.

Vacation homes especially benefit from this. If there’s a cold snap or sudden bout of heat, you can make adjustments from miles and miles away.

If people are coming or your schedule changed, you can warm up the house.

But, yeah — if you forgot to change the temperature before you left, you can do that, too.

Learn your schedule and adjust on its own

Here’s where it gets interesting: Eventually, you don’t even have to worry about changing the settings. The machine will do it for you.

Smart thermostats are loaded with new sensors, algorithms, and other features. When you’re linked to them, they can use the location on your phone to tell when people are in the house and when they’re not.

Over time, it learns your schedule and figures out the best times to make adjustments

Sure, you can approximate the best times to adjust it. Maybe you’ll even keep a log of your comings and goings.

But, why bother when the gauge will do it for you?

Meanwhile, those changes add up. According to the U.S. Department of energy, dialing back your thermostat 8 hours out of the day can reduce your heating and cooling expenses by up to 10 percent.

When it’s happening automatically, and that process is optimized, you’ll hit the mark — and maybe even exceed it.

Smart Thermostats With Daikin VRV and Heat Pumps

Now, let’s get into some real power plays. Combining a smart thermostat with Daikin VRV Life or another heat pump system really makes the most of both appliances.

That efficiency comes courtesy of the heat pump and the air handlers in your home. Here’s how.

Heat Transfer vs. Heat Generation

Your average furnace burns fossil fuels to create heat. It works, but it uses a lot of resources.

A heat pump system doesn’t do that. Instead, it draws thermal energy from outside — even when it’s cold out — compresses it, and exports it into your house.

With this process, almost 80 percent of the energy comes from the air — which is free. The rest is electricity — which is way less than any heat-generating system uses.

Variant Refrigerant Volume

Refrigerant is how the heat gets from one place to the other. With the heat pump system, there’s a closed loop where thermal energy moves from outside to your air handlers via refrigerant.

The “Variable” part is what saves you money. It doesn’t just turn on at full power, or turn back off. Instead, the system uses only enough electricity to send just enough refrigerant through the loop.

(Side note: VRF – the “F” stands for “flow” — is the same thing with a different name)

This way, it keeps a more consistent temperature. And, it uses about 30 percent less energy to do it.

VRV and Smart Thermostats

Now, let’s put the two together!

Your smart thermostat is already measuring the temperature much more accurately than earlier models. So, it’s sending much better readings to your heating system.

On the other end, the heating system is maintaining the temperature. It’s fluctuating way less than with traditional furnaces. And, it’s using less energy.

If you’re curious about how to make this all work, give Compass Heating and Air a call at (630) 504-8688, or send us an email. With a free consultation, we’ll help you find the tools and systems to make your home more comfortable — and energy-efficient — than ever before.