UPDATE: Following the province of Ontario’s shutdown of the provincial emissions cap-and-trade program, Green Fund Ontario will no longer be providing smart thermostat rebates as of October 2018. Rebate applications for smart thermostat purchases must be submitted to the province no later than September 30, 2018.
Now that the Green Ontario Fund offers a $100 rebate for installing a smart thermostat, it’s hard to argue against taking the plunge and buying one. But is it the right decision for you?
Smart thermostats, like Nest or Ecobee (the only brands eligible for the rebate), work by learning your energy needs and allowing you control your home’s temperature remotely. You can also download reports to examine your energy efficiency.
They have become quite sophisticated. They can detect, through sensors or tracking your phone, if you’re home and adjust the temperature accordingly. They also have algorithms that can learn your schedule.
If you get up at 9 a.m. every morning, for example, and turn up the heat, eventually the thermostat will “learn” that and automatically raise the temperature. That allows you to fall asleep in the cold but get out from beneath the covers toasty warm.
If you want a truly smart home, the thermostats can also connect to various third-party applications like keyless entries, home entertainment systems, smoke detectors, security systems and more.
There are very few cons to purchasing and installing one, so let’s examine those first:
- Is it kind of creepy your thermostat can know your whereabouts?
- The warranty only two years long (but by that time who knows what other products will be available?)
- Installation may be confusing for some (likely those who also have a hard time putting together IKEA furniture)
- Third-party applications rely on Wifi (but the thermostat function still works without wifi)
The pros, however, outweigh the cons:
- Excellent for landlords who pay the utility bill and want to control the temperature
- Excellent for landlords of short-term tenancies, like Airbnb, who have varied energy needs
- Great selling feature when landlords are trying to attract tenants for hot properties such as Hamilton houses or Mississauga condos
- Can also be installed by renters with landlord’s consent in condos or other units
- Makes travelling easier since you can maintain a temperature that prevents both frozen pipes and needless air conditioning
- Feels like you’re an aristocrat in Downton Abbey who got the servants to wake up early and light the fires before arising
- More aesthetically pleasing than your average thermostat
- You get alerts if something is wrong, like if the furnace is acting up, or the temperature is low enough for pipes to freeze
- Has additional interface functions, like showing the time and weather
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