Editor’s note: The following remarks were made regarding the “Homeowners Are Ready for Smart Thermostats” article, written by Kyle Gargaro, published June 12, 2017, in The NEWS.
A DIME A DOZEN THERMOSTAT
I just finished your article, “Homeowners Are Ready for Smart Thermostats,” discussing where adoption may be headed in the future. Although the interest may be high (as you pointed out), adoption and use may not be. What we have found is that with so many choices, many people don’t know what to choose. They will either go by what the contractor recommends or accept what comes ‘free’ with the system. Many receive smart thermostats as gifts and don’t know what to do with them (closet shelf is one option). There is also the ‘do nothing, wait and see’ factor.
We have also seen homeowners who start out with the best of intentions only to abandon or retreat in features and use. Some go as far as to pull out one brand for another thinking it will be easier to use. For the contractor, you can only learn so much as every install and thermostat is different. Even distributors are left shaking their heads as to what to carry — in some cases, we (or the homeowner) can buy from big-box retail stores cheaper than distribution. Where’s the distributors’ reward in that?
Having spent more than 20 years in software and information technology before getting into the IAQ business, I see a lot of similarities between smart thermostats and digital cameras. As they developed over time, digital cameras became feature-rich with a crowded market of choices and manufacturers. Once the cellphone became the platform of choice for taking pictures, the market evaporated (sans a few high-end cameras). I think once home automation settles down into a central platform of control (like a smartphone), and utility companies may influence that in some way, the smart thermostat will fade into the sunset.
As your sister publication for appliance design recently pointed out, Wi-Fi is not sustainable as a conduit of communication and cellular [services] will become the platform of choice. What will happen to today’s smart thermostats that are Wi-Fi-enabled? They will become the recycling program we see today in mercury thermostats … That’s a bit extreme, but you get the drift.
Publication date: 7/31/2017