Month: January 2019

Choosing Between A Heat Pump And An Air Conditioner In Houston

Heat Pump Or Air Conditioner: Which Is Better?

To give it the simplest possible definition, a heat pump is an air conditioner that also has the ability to heat the air it delivers as well as cool it down.

The benefits of a heat pump start getting interesting when you find yourself in need of a replacement air conditioner or even an all-new HVAC system. Under the right circumstances, a heat pump can replace an air conditioner and even a heating system at the same time. You have to have a clear understanding of your needs and the capabilities of a heat pump before deciding whether or not one’s right for your home.

This article will give you a thorough run-down on the differences between air conditioners and heat pumps and explain the benefits and potential drawbacks of a heat pump.

The Key Differences Between Heat Pumps And Air Conditioners

Heat pumps and air conditioners operate exactly the same way in hot summer months when their job is to cool down an indoors space. They both extract heat from the indoor air and dump it outside the building.

When the weather turns cold, though, the traditional air conditioner’s job is done. In most homes and businesses, air conditioners are teamed up with furnaces or electric heaters to deliver the heat required for keeping indoor spaces comfortable.

A heat pump gets its name from its ability to inject heat into space as well as take it out.

How does a heat pump do this? As we’ve already suggested, it’s capable of running in reverse to put heat into an indoor space instead of taking it out. That means that a heat pump has the ability to gather heat from the outside air, even in cold weather.

That sounds a little crazy, right? Rest assured, the technology is in there to make it all work. While the outdoor air certainly feels chilly in the winter, it still contains plenty of heat energy. Heat pumps are built to scavenge up that heat energy and transfer it into a building.

The Benefits Of The Heat Pump

Heat Pump Operation Is Very Affordable

One of the most common reasons for owners to install a heat pump instead of a traditional air conditioner plus furnace combo is that the heat pump is cheaper to operate. Thanks to outstanding energy efficiency, heat pumps can reduce your utility bills significantly. (Want the technical details on heat pump efficiency? Check out energy.gov’s article on the subject.)

Heat Pumps Have Lower Environmental Impact

A lot of the traditional options for heating a home or business oblige you to burn fossil fuels, like gas or oil. Heat pumps deliver useful heat energy without this reliance on non-renewable resources. While heat pumps still require power, which might be derived from fossil fuels depending on your local energy provider, overall they are much more environmentally-friendly tools for heating an indoor space.

A Simpler System Means Easier Maintenance And Repairs

When you use a heat pump to provide both heating and cooling, you have a significantly simpler system to take care of. Maintenance is faster and cheaper on a heat pump than a combination system. It’s also easier to diagnose heating and cooling problems. This simplicity translates into overall savings on operational and maintenance costs.

Heat Pumps Are Compact

Relying on a single system for both heating and cooling saves you space as well as money. The lower space requirements of heat pumps make them particularly popular in urban environments where every square foot is precious.

The Potential Drawbacks Of Heat Pumps

Heat Pump Efficiency Has Its Limits

The biggest limitation that holds heat pumps back is the unavoidable fact that they become less efficient the colder the weather gets.

Check our very basic description of heat pump operation above. It heats an indoor space by pulling heat energy from the outdoor air. The colder that the air is, the harder the heat pump has to work to produce the heat you’re looking for. The cost of operating a heat pump can rise significantly if it has to deal with very low temperatures for long periods of time.

Supplemental Heating May Be Required

While heat pump efficiency is improving all the time, they have not yet become viable all-year, all-climate sources for indoor heating. In regions where temperatures drop below freezing and stay there for a long time, you may have to make alternate arrangements to ensure that your home or business remains comfortable in the coldest months.

This applies particularly to home and business owners in the Northeast. It is common in these sorts of climates to add a backup heat source (like a furnace or central electric heater)to a heat pump. This adds to the overall cost of your HVAC system.

Heat Pump Vs. Air Conditioner: The Cost

The initial cost of equipment and installation is higher for a heat pump than an air conditioner. The difference between the two can run into the multiple thousands of dollars.

If your climate makes it feasible to use a heat pump for all of your heating and cooling needs, though, you may end up saving money by ditching the heating components of your system.

TIP FOR COMMERCIAL HEAT PUMPS

Up to the end of 2018, you have the opportunity to save big on a heat pump installation. A special tax rule allows you to deduct the full cost of heat pump equipment and installation from your 2018 tax return. Previously, tax incentives only allowed you to depreciate the cost of a heat pump across the equipment’s lifespan.

The net effect? You get a big tax break up front instead of a smaller one delivered over time.

Additional Guidance

Choosing a heat pump instead of a traditional air conditioner is a big step. It’ll have an impact on your home or business for many years, so seeking out expert guidance is a good idea. Talk to us when you need an HVAC replacement or upgrade! We’ll carefully review your specific needs and make sure you get the best equipment (at the best price!) to meet them.

Call us now if you have any questions on what you should choose!

Houston HVAC and Home Automation: Smart Thermostat and Speaker Capabilities Part 3

Guide to Home Automation Device And HVAC Compatibility Part III

Thermostat By Idevices
  • Capability with many smart speakers: Amazon Echo or other speakers using Alexa, as well as Google Home, or Apple Homekit
  • No learning capabilities
  • Main Features: You can control the thermostat when you are away from home using your phone and the app
  • Group settings for many different devices with a single command. Say something like “bedtime” to turn off lights and change the thermostat.
Insteon Smart Thermostat model 2441TH
  • Smart Speaker Compatibility: includes working with Amazon Echo, and Alexa devices (it requires Insteon Hub)
  • No learning capabilities – but can be programmed for 7 full days.
  • Main Features: Has an app to let you control it using your phone while away from the house
Lennox’s Icomfort E30
  • Smart Speaker Compatibility: includes working with Amazon Echo, Alexa devices, and the Apple Homekit
  • Learning Capability allows it to be programmed once and then adapts to any changes in your routine
  • Main Features: Will start fan when pollen levels are detected and are high
  • Has a remote control app so you adjust thermostat on-the-go
  • Uses a geofencing tracking sensor to let the thermostat know when you are close to home. Adjusts temperature to your desired setting.
  • Sets alert for the temperature, humidity, or for service issues.
  • Tells you when to change filters
Nest’s Learning Thermostat
  • Smart Speaker Capabilities allows it to work with Amazon Echo, Alexa devices, Google Home, and IFTTT
  • Has learning capabilities
  • Main Features: Gives you energy reports
  • Works with an app on your phone as a remote control
  • Provides alerts for the temperature, humidity, and service issues.
  • Tells you when it’s time to change filters.
Radio Thermostat 7 Day Programmable Thermostat CT 50 or CT80
  • Smart Speaker works with Google Home
  • No Learning Capabilities but can be set for a full 7-day schedule
  • Other Features: Use the app with it as a remote control
  • Uses geofencing location tracking so that your device knows when you are going home and sets your thermostat for you.
Venstar Colortouch T7900 Thermostat
  • Smart Speaker Compatibility works with Amazon Echo and Alexa devices
  • Learning Capabilities: None but can be set for a 365-day schedule
  • MORE FEATURES: The app works as a remote control
  • If your HVAC has a humidifier, use it to control humidity
Venstar’s Residential Explorer
  • Smart Speaker Compatibilities will work when you buy the Wi-Fi module on Amazon Echo and Alexa devices
  • No learning capabilities but can be programmed for 7 days
  • Other Capabilities: App works as a remote control

Setup A Smart Speaker

Smart thermostats usually communicate with smart speakers using a set of skills. Every brand of a smart speaker has its own set of skills which you can read about online. To connect the devices, simply download a skill or enable it. The choice depends on the brand you choose. When you set up the thermostat you learn the phrase that will allow you to control the thermostat with the speaker.

In a short time, you will be controlling the comfort of your home by speaking a simple phrase or command!

Call or contact us today with any questions that you might have. To start over on this article, visit here.

Houston HVAC and Home Automation: Smart Thermostat and Speaker Capabilities Part 2

Guide to Home Automation Device, Home Control systems and HVAC Compatibility Part II

ECOBEE 4
  • Smart Speaker Compatible – Yes! This smart thermostat is not just fully Alexa-compatible, it has a built-in speaker and is capable of functioning as an Alexa hub right out of the box. It’s also compatible with Apple Homekit, Samsung SmartThings, Google Home, Wink, and IFTTT.
  • Learning Capability – The Ecobee 4 starts with a preset schedule. Over time, it assesses how long your specific equipment takes to reach temperature targets and adjusts itself accordingly. (aka Adaptive Recovery)
  • Other Features – The Ecobee 4 can respond to voice commands (thanks to its built-in Alexa functionality) without the need for any additional smart appliances. The thermostat is compatible with individual-room thermometers (sold separately) and can adjust its settings based on which rooms are and are not occupied. The Ecobee 4 creates energy usage reports. It also comes with a remote-control app so you can adjust it from anywhere.
EMERSON SENSI
  • Smart Speaker Compatible – Yes! This thermostat works with Alexa devices, Wink, and Google Home. Some Sensi models (Sensi WiFi and Sensi Touch WiFi) are compatible with Apple Homekit.
  • Learning Capability – None. The Sensi accepts a completely customizable 7-day program, though.
  • Other Features – Connects to HVAC equipment without a C-wire, allowing compatibility with older heating & cooling systems. The Sensi has a remote-control app available. The Sensi offers Geofencing location tracking to sense your approach and adjust your home’s temperature before you arrive.
JOHNSON CONTROLS GLAS SMART THERMOSTAT
  • Smart Speaker Compatible? – Yes! The Glas has a built-in hub and speaker that use Microsoft Cortana. The thermostat also works with Amazon Echo/Alexa and Google Home.
  • Learning Capability -The thermostat gathers preference information by asking questions during the setup process.
  • Other Features – The Glas monitors air quality in your home. It has a remote control app. The thermostat also has a cutting-edge transparent OLED control panel.
HIVE HEATING AND COOLING PACK
  • Smart Speaker Compatible? – Yes! Works with Google Home and Amazon Alexa devices.
  • Learning Capability – None. But its schedule can be programmed
  • Other Features – Comes with a remote-control app. The thermostat can be purchased separately or with a Hive Hub. The Hub is required for tying in other devices and controlling them (including the thermostat) through the app.
HONEYWELL SMART COLOR 7-DAY PROGRAMMABLE THERMOSTAT
  • Smart Speaker Compatible? – Yes! Works with Google Home, Amazon Echo/Alexa devices, and IFTTT.
  • Learning Capability – Yes! The thermostat will learn how long your system requires to reach set temperatures and adjust its programming accordingly. (aka Adaptive Recovery)
  • Other Features – The thermostat creates energy use reports. It can be controlled remotely with its app. You can also set alerts for equipment issues, temperature, and humidity. The thermostat even tracks filter life and lets you know when it’s time to replace!
HONEYWELL WIFI 7-DAY PROGRAMMABLE THERMOSTAT
  • Smart Speaker Compatible? – Yes! Works with Apple Homekit, Google Home, and Amazon Echo/Alexa.
  • Learning Capability – None. The thermostat does accept 7-day schedule programming.
  • Other Features – Can be controlled remotely using the appropriate app.
HONEYWELL LYRIC (T5)
  • Smart Speaker Compatible? – Yes! Works with Amazon Echo/Alexa, Apple Homekit, Google Home, and Samsung SmartThings.
  • Learning Capability – Yes! The thermostat learns how long your HVAC system needs to achieve set temperatures and adjusts its settings accordingly. (aka Adaptive Recovery)
  • Other Features – The thermostat features geo-fencing capability – it can tell when you’re on your way home and make suitable changes to your home’s temperature. It can be controlled remotely via an app. The thermostat has alerts for temperature extremes and tracks filter life.

To continue on with the rest of this article, visit here. Call or contact us today with any questions that you might have.

Houston HVAC and Home Automation: Smart Thermostat and Speaker Capabilities Part 1

Guide to Home Automation Device And HVAC Compatibility Part I

Are you searching for a smart speaker to get for your house? In order to maximize your investment, it is essential to choose one that will work with smart devices you already own, including your home’s HVAC smart thermostat.

Also, if you have a smart speaker already, like Amazon Echo (and Alexa) or Google Home, you may want to consider getting upgraded to a smart thermostat so that you can use simple voice commands to adjust the comfort settings. For individuals who don’t want to have to stop what they are doing in order to make adjustments to their home comfort settings, this is the ultimate luxury. The problem is, it isn’t an easy task to determine which smart speaker devices work with which thermostats. It also can be very time consuming and confusing.

This is why we have compiled this guide on home automation and HVAC. You will find useful information on the leading smart thermostats along with whether they are compatible or not with the smart speakers that are the most popular. If you are wondering how smart thermostats and smart speakers work together along with what you are going to need to connect the devices, at the end we will describe this process.

Important: As smart speaker and thermostat manufacturers continue to introduce new features and models, compatibility might change. The information contained in the guide is for helping you save time by narrowing your options down. You always need to confirm compatibility (between smart speakers and thermostats as well as between HVAC systems and thermostats) with device manufacturers prior to buying anything. You might be able to get advice from your residential HVAC provider.

Compatibility of Smart Speakers with Smart Thermostats

Are you wondering which smart thermostats work with Apple Home Kit, Amazon Echo, and Alexa, or Google Home? Use our chart to find the models that are compatible.

Smart Thermostats: Key Features and Compatibility

Carrier Cor TP-WEM01-A WiFi Thermostat
  • Compatibility With Smart Speakers: Apple Homekit, Amazon Echo (and other Alexa devices)
  • Learning Capabilities: None, but may be programmed on a 7-day schedule
  • Other Features to Note (Similar to the Bryant Housewise, given that the same manufacturer makes both brands)
  • Controls humidity settings (using compatible HVAC equipment)
  • Monthly energy reports are generated
  • An app is available for the remote control (which allows you to control it while you are away from home)
  • Alerts are created for service issues, humidity, temperature, and it even alerts you when you need to change the filters on your system.
Ecobee 3 Lite
  • Compatibility of Smart Speakers: Apple Homekit, Amazon Echo (and other Alexa devices), Google Home, Wink, IFTTT, Samsung Smart Things, Cortana
  • Learning Capabilities: A preset schedule comes with it, and then it learns the amount of time it takes for the HVAC system to get to the set temperature and then adjusts automatically (adaptive recovery)
  • Other Features To Note
  • Room-specific temperature sensors are optional, and even can detect which of your rooms are currently occupies and make the proper adjustments
  • A C-wire is not required to connect with HVAC equipment – so it might work with HVAC systems that are older
  • Energy reports are generated
  • An app is available for remote control (allows you to control it while you are away from home)

To continue on with the rest of this article, visit here. Call or contact us today with any questions that you might have.