There is a lot being said about smart home technology these days, but is it just the latest buzzword, or will it really save you money? Smart technology for the home can encompass a wide variety of gadgets, from smart appliances to smart home hubs like Amazon Alexa. In the HVAC world, smart thermostats have become increasingly popular among homeowners trying to keep their homes comfortable while conserving energy and saving money. Here’s the lowdown on smart thermostats and how they could help you save money on your heating and cooling costs. Traditional, Programmable, and Smart Thermostats: What’s the Difference? First things first, let’s distinguish between the different types of thermostats available. A traditional, or “old-school” thermostat is a very simple device on the wall that allows you to manually control the temperature in your home by turning a dial. If you live in an older home or apartment, you might have this type of thermostat. A traditional thermostat is the least expensive option available. A programmable thermostat is a digital device that allows you to program a temperature schedule for your home — i.e., you can set it to turn the heat or air conditioning up or down at specific times throughout the day.  Programmable thermostats are middle of the road as far as pricing goes. They’re more expensive than traditional ones, but still more affordable than smart thermostats. A smart thermostat lets you control even more than a programmable thermostat does through high-tech features like Wi-Fi connectivity, self-monitoring, predictive controls, and more. Plus, you can control a smart thermostat from either a digital wall panel or a smartphone app, so you can adjust your home’s climate wherever you are. A bigger investment than a traditional or programmable thermostat, smart thermostats can cost anywhere from $100-$500 or more, depending on the brand, model, and features. How Does a Smart Thermostat Save Energy? Smart thermostats have the potential to provide significant energy savings — in many cases, enough to recoup their cost within a year or two. Here’s how they do that. It Can Tell If You’re Home or Not This may sound like the beginning of a horror movie, but rest assured, there’s no evil villain at work here.  One of the ways a smart thermostat reduces energy consumption is by tracking your location via your smartphone and adjusting your home’s temperature accordingly. For instance, when you leave for work in the morning and reach a certain distance from home, your smart thermostat will read your location and automatically turn down the heat or A/C to save energy. Then, when you’re on your way home and come within a certain distance of your house, the thermostat will turn up the heat or A/C again. This way, you save energy on heating and cooling costs while maintaining a comfortable temperature in your home…all without you having to lift a finger. With Self-Programming Features, It Can Learn Your Preferences With a smart thermostat, you don’t have to spend time programming an exhaustive custom schedule (unless you want to). The device can learn your habits and preferences and create a schedule accordingly. It can take a couple of weeks or so for the device to learn your habits. In that time, you can simply adjust the temperature from your smartphone app or wall panel to help it learn what temperature you like at what time of day.  Eventually, it will make those changes automatically. It Monitors Your Energy Consumption A smart thermostat will also track your usage patterns to show you how much energy you’re using as well as a comparison between your set temperatures, actual room temperatures, and outside temperatures.  Some of them will even compare your usage with that of the average home...

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Are you curious about what it takes to become an HVAC technician? Or do you have a student who is interested in a career in HVAC? If so, you’ve come to the right place. Working as an HVAC technician can offer you a fulfilling career taking care of the systems that keep people comfortable every day. Heating and air conditioning systems are a vital part of maintaining a comfortable and healthy environment for work, play, and everything in between in both residential and commercial settings. Read on to learn what an HVAC technician does, what the job outlook is, and how to get started on your HVAC career. What Does an HVAC Technician Do? HVAC technicians install, repair, and maintain heating and cooling equipment, which can include furnaces, air conditioners, ventilation equipment, climate control systems, refrigeration equipment, and more. Throughout the day-to-day of their jobs, technicians may be required to: Read blueprints and HVAC equipment specificationsAssemble and install HVAC units, thermostats, humidistats, and timers in residential and commercial buildings Connect HVAC systems to electrical, water, and fuel sourcesTest HVAC components and systems according to the manufacturer’s specificationsTest piping or tubing joints for leaksInspect, unclog, and clean ductsTroubleshoot common problems with heating and air conditioning equipmentMaintain HVAC units to keep them in good working orderClean and replace air filters and other malfunctioning partsSell service contracts for HVAC equipment maintenance or servicing HVAC technicians also work directly with customers, many of whom are experiencing stress because their heating or air conditioning systems aren’t working properly. Knowing how to treat customers with respect, patience, and honesty is a crucial part of a successful HVAC career. Job Outlook for HVAC Technicians The job outlook for the HVAC field is good. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the industry is expected to see 5% growth from 2020 to 2030, with an average of about 38,500 job openings each year. This number includes new jobs in the HVAC industry, as well as jobs that open up as workers retire or shift to different occupations. In addition, the U.S. is currently experiencing a significant labor shortage, and the HVAC industry is not immune to that.  If you are considering a career in HVAC, there are plenty of opportunities available. Steps to a Career in HVAC While becoming an HVAC technician doesn’t require you to obtain a college degree, there are a few requirements you need to meet, as well as additional education and certifications that can help you be more successful in your HVAC career.  Here are the steps to take if you are interested in becoming an HVAC technician: Get a High School Diploma or Equivalent. Most states require a high school diploma or GED to pursue a job in HVAC. If you are still in high school or working toward your GED degree, try to take courses that focus on relevant subjects, like computer science, physics, math, or shop classes.Take Classes for Your HVAC Certificate. While there is no federal requirement for HVAC certification, many states do require technicians to be certified. (Even if your state doesn’t require it, a certificate helps you appear more reputable to potential customers.) Classes for an HVAC certificate take less than a year and include training in diagnostics, testing equipment and tools, and principles of mechanics, electronics, and electricity.Complete an Apprenticeship. An apprenticeship is not a requirement for a job in HVAC, but it can help you gain on-the-job training and experience that will make you more attractive to potential employers. Apprenticeships can last anywhere from three to five years, and involve a combination of coursework and practical training.Work Toward Additional Licenses and Certifications. There are a number of certifications you...

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