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CNET: Need a better thermostat? Look to your smartphone

Laura Kier

January 20, 2012

For many, the ballyhooed smart home of connected devices will start with the lowly thermostat.

By Martin LaMonica

Startup EnergyHub today is releasing data from a study of customers who bought a $99 WiFi-enabled thermostat tied to EnergyHub’s Web service. It found that letting consumers operate the thermostat from a familiar PC or smartphone application, rather than on the thermostat itself, makes a dramatic difference in how often the programmable features are used.

An Internet-connected thermostat also allows people to remotely control home heating and cooling. Being able to adjust home temperature from the office or commute, for example, appears to be driving much of the interest in smart thermostats, said EnergyHub CEO Seth Frader-Thompson.

“Most people want the convenience and the energy savings,” he said. “Remote control is by far the biggest driver to make the initial purchase.”

Typically, only about 10 percent of people who have a programmable thermostat actually create a schedule to, for example, turn down the heating when nobody’s at home. In tests with about 100,000 users of the 3M-50 Filtrete WiFi thermostat, EnergyHub found that about 85 percent of people made use of the scheduling features.

“We’re not changing the way the thermostat works. We’re getting it to do what it was designed to do 30 years ago,” he said. “An easier interface is a huge part of it.”

To see the full story check out CNET’s article here.

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