What makes a smart thermostat so much smarter than a programmable one? A more flexible schedule, a wider variety of features and ease of use, to name a few.
Some years ago, when many homeowners upgraded from old, dial thermostats to a digital, programmable ones, they gained some advantages. Getting up on cold, dark mornings to turn up the thermostat became a thing of the past, like stoking the embers. Programmable thermostats have your home at the temperature you want it when your alarm goes off, making it that much easier to get out of bed.
Handy, Not Revolutionary
Programmable thermostats also allow you to keep the house cooler (or warmer, in summer), while you are at work during the day, but have it toasty again for you when you arrive home. Like a programmable coffee pot, these features allow you to have what you want when you want it, but realistically, it’s not greatly different from flipping a switch yourself and waiting a few minutes.
While convenient, a programmable thermostat that saves you the trouble of walking over to the control unit to turn your HVAC up or down is not likely to make huge difference in your life, or your energy bill. Smart thermostats are a bit different, however.
Control4 Smart Thermostat
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Savant Smart Thermostat
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Programmable thermostats generally give you a limited number of schedules — sometimes only one. This is fine if you keep to the same schedule every day, but if you do, you don’t really need a fancy thermostat anyway.
Smart thermostats allow you to choose a variety of options for schedules during the week and on weekends. You may not get home from work until six, but maybe your kids get home from school at 3:30 — except on days they work (which change every week) or have practices or rehearsals, which change every season, or sometimes even more often. Or what if you’re expecting them home, but they go to friends’ houses instead, leaving your house at a balmy 72 degrees for hours with only the goldfish to benefit?
Last-minute schedule changes can leave your home too hot or too cold and waste money. Smart thermostats allow you to log in to your system from work or from your phone and make any necessary changes to the temperature in your home.
Knowledge is Power
An indirect way smart thermostats can help you save money is by tracking your energy consumption and making this data available to you. This way you can see how much energy you are consuming and whether it is in line with your past usage.
If you find, for instance, that it takes more than an hour to bring your home’s temperature up or down to the requested level, you might learn that something’s wrong with your furnace or air conditioning.
If you find your heat usage spikes between 3 and 5 p.m. when your kids are playing video games in the basement, you may save money installing extra insulation or instructing them to don sweatshirts before retiring to the subterranean level.
DIY projects can be rewarding, but smart home technology installation is not for the average handyman. You wouldn’t guess it from the products you see advertised every day at Home Depot and even Ikea, but it’s true. It was hard enough to put together that Kallax with those wordless instructions — how do you think it’s going to go with their smart home system? Will it be made of particle board?
DIY for smart homes comes with two major problems: the task is difficult, and mixing and matching components can be asking for trouble.
Smart vs. Average
If you buy a smart home in a box, you get all the sophisticated technology available for $199, and setting it up is as simple as plugging it into your router and downloading apps. Like a bed in a bag, it’s the Hyundai of smart home technology. If you’re looking more for a Buick or even a Jaguar, you will want hard wiring and more advanced technology. Homeowners have had the ability to turn lights and TVs on and off via remote control for years, so the beauty of smart home technology lies deeper than that. For instance, streaming music into different rooms is a popular feature, and without speakers, this is an impossibility. Without good speakers, it’s merely undesirable.
Some homeowners want to jump into smart home technology with both feet, but more want to just dip a big toe in first to test the waters. They may want to automate just a few features, like lights and door locks, and see how they like that before adding on anything else. That’s why it’s good to start with a system like Savant, so you can expand to automate other functions in your home as you become more comfortable with the ones you have.
Trust the Leaders
Going with an established, professional-grade, platform like Savant is also handy because you can get everything you need in one place, and there’s no need for shopping around comparing functions and prices. Remember when you had four or more remote controls on every coffee and end table? You want to avoid that kind of setup in the future.
And time is on your side when you stay with the same company, because if you wait to get a particular feature, you may end up with an updated version of it, and you won’t have to worry about whether it’s compatible with what you already have. And if you ever need support or help of any kind, you’ll have more than an 800 number on the back of a cardboard box to turn to.
Theatron Home Theater and Smart Homes transforms regular homes into smart homes all over Virginia, Maryland and Washington DC. Don’t risk a DIY installation with your smart home technology — trust the professionals at Theatron Home Theater and Smart Homes to do the job for you.
What is Video Distribution? In your typical home, you have a TV with a handful of video components plugged into it. You probably have a Blu-ray player, a Direct TV receiver, maybe an Apple TV and a game console. Hopefully you’ve got some kind of media cabinet to store all these items in, but there’s a good chance they’re all sitting out in plain site, and all the cables are out and attractive looking on the walls.
With Video Distribution, you centralize all the Video components; usually in some kind of media rack or closet. From there, you distribute the different Video content out to the different TV’s in the home. So instead of having all your components under each TV, and cables dangling everywhere, you conceal all the components out of site. The TV sits flush and clean on the wall, and there are no visible cables. An added convenience, is that you don’t need a Blu-ray player, or Apple TV for every TV anymore. You can feed all the TV’s in the home with the same Blu-ray.
In most instances, we run Cat5e, and preferably 2 Cat5e from the media rack out to every TV in the home. There’s a piece of hardware called a HDMI Matrix, or Video Matrix. It’s a fancy name for a switch. It’s kind of like a router for your internet, but it’s for the video components. It has a number of video inputs, and a number of video outputs. So lets say we have a 4×4 Video Matrix. That means you can pug in 4 Video Sources, and out put them to 4 TV’s or displays, including a projector. There’s a very small device that sticks to the back of the TV called a balun. These baluns convert the Cat5e coming from the Video Matrix, into HDMI. So you’re able to send HD content from the Video Matrix over Cat5e to every TV in the home.
A couple of tips on Video distribution. Most people want to have at least 2 satellite/cable receivers, and at least 2 Blu-ray players. If the kids want to watch the Disney channel, and you want to watch the news, you’re going to want two different receivers. The same is true for you Blu-ray players. Next, most people find they want 6-8 video sources. You can save money by buying a 4×4 matrix, but in our experience customers are always disappointed they can’t have 6 video sources. Pay the extra, and get a minimum 6 sources. You’ll use 2 receivers, 2 Blu-rays, and Apple TV or Roku, and a DVR for your surveillance system. Lastly, buy the Video Matrix that supports the number of TV’s you think you might use someday. If you’re only going to use 4 TV’s initially, but know you’ll have 8 TV’s down the road, then buy the 8×8 Video Matrix. It’s cheaper than upgrading later.The Video Matrix, allows you to select the TV you want to watch, and the Video source you want played to that TV. It does the rest of the switching and sourcing to give you the desired content. Now, if you have a Video Matrix, you have to have some kind of Controller like Savant’s Smart Host or Pro Host. This allows you to use a remote, or a smart phone to control the Matrix.
“With the new Savant App, we’ve put powerful home control into the hands of consumers like never before,” said William Lynch, CEO, Savant Systems. “We call it the Single App Home, and whether it’s setting the perfect environment or being more efficient with climate, sprinklers, or other systems, owning a Savant Home gives people one, easy-to-use app that allows them to get more enjoyment and peace of mind from their home.”
Among the app’s unique capabilities are Savant Scenes, which allow homeowners to easily create, capture, and schedule “scenes” that incorporate multiple systems at once. When the perfect song is on, the lights are low, and everything feels right, users can capture the moment and relive it any time with just one touch. Users can also personalize settings for specific rooms and services – like scheduling the house to warm before you wake up, streaming different songs to separate rooms, or setting the lights to turn off when you’re away.
With Savant Plus – a secure cloud service – homeowners will get full remote access to their Savant system, just as if they were sitting in their living room. Customers will also be able to receive personalized, real-time alerts via email or push notification if something is amiss. Whether customers want to know if a door is open or the house is too hot, Savant Plus makes this easy in the new app.
In addition, Savant is releasing an updated line of wired and Wi-Fi controllers that give flexibility to installers and let customers integrate existing home features – such as garage doors, fireplaces, whirlpools and more – into their Savant Home.
The new product line will be available on November 10, 2014 through Savant’s network of over 1,500 Authorized Integrators spanning 35 countries, and start at around $1,000 US MSRP.
The launch of the Savant App coincides with the re-launch of Savant’s website, www.savant.com. The new design reflects the company’s focus on the Single App Home and lets interested customers easily find an integrator near their home.
With the new Savant App you will be able to make changes from your smartphone instantly. Using the Savant app the power of control is in your hands allowing you to program personalized scenes and schedules without having to call us to make changes.
Create, schedule, and edit scenes like “Good Morning” and “Game Day” that capture your current home setup. These settings can be saved and are as easy to recreate as hitting a button.
The Savant app can notify you about what is going on at your house with real-time alerts via email or push-notifications. Whenever something is out of the ordinary, Single App Home can let you know, giving you peace of mind every time you leave the house.
5. Remote Access with Savant Plus
Monitor and control your house from anywhere. With phone based access, you can make sure your security system is on while you’re away.
6. Updated Controllers
New wired and Wi-Fi remotes allow you to automate more home amenities, including fireplaces, garage doors, whirlpools, sprinklers, and more!
7. Last, But Not Least
A new, elegant, and user-friendly Savant app interface.
The fully redesigned Savant home automation app allows users to personalize their homes with a swipe of a finger. This easy-to-use app, available for Android and iPhone, allows you to control your lighting, climate, entertainment, and security systems from anywhere. The Savant app learns your preferences and the services you interact with most. With that information, the app recognizes your individual needs and your house becomes customized to your lifestyle. From early mornings to movie nights, the new Savant app lets you create the perfect environment for your lifestyle.