Smart home technology has finally evolved to become mainstream and affordable. From low cost lighting controls, motorized shades and even low cost integrated systems that let you know your garage door was left open and allows you to shut it from your smart phone. Now I’m still not sure why you would need your refrigerator to talk to your dishwasher, but I’m sure that technology is coming. I guess even appliances get lonely and need something to talk to every once in a while.

As most of you have heard by now, there are WI-FI connected home thermostats such as Nest that can be controlled by your smart phone and also sense when you are home or away. This allows for greater exibility in setting setback temperatures and help reduce energy costs. The Ecobee Smart Wi-Fi Thermostat, although a less familiar name, had similar functions compared to a Nest thermostat but includes a remote sensor as well. The remote sensor is a great way to increase comfort. Most homes have only one centrally located thermostat, Ecobee can utilize remote sensors in the bedroom and family room to help regulate comfortable temperatures throughout the home.

The advantage of a smart thermostat over a regular programmable thermostat is the ability to easily program the thermostat and allow you to remotely control the temperature of your home from your smartphone, tablet, or desktop. Additionally, the Ecobee can be set to either “home” or “away.” When set to the away mode, Ecobee adjusts the temperature of your home to save even more energy while you’re out of the house and ensures your comfort within a short time after arriving home. You can also have the Ecobee system send you email reminders to change your furnace lter or alerts you if your temperature drops below a preset level. This is a great assurance when you are at work or on vacation that your furnace hasn’t failed. That in itself could prevent costly repairs from a frozen plumbing system. A smart thermostat is estimated to save you up to 23% on your annual heating and cooling costs each year.

ComEd is currently offering a rebate of up to $100 for selected smart thermostats, along with other rebate incentives that encourage energy ef ciency. Nicor Gas has a $50.00 rebate program as well for the installation of a smart thermostat. With the rebates, there is very little reason not to upgrade.

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