Increasingly, homebuyers are looking for energy efficiency in the homes they’re considering. In fact, a study by the National Association of Home Builders found 9 out 10 homebuyers would choose a more expensive energy efficient home over a cheaper and less efficient one.

For builders looking to create and market more energy efficient homes, a common tactic is to offer Energy Star appliances. It’s the HVAC system, however, that represents a more impactful area of opportunity for builders to differentiate their new homes from competitors.

On average, heating and cooling eats up more than half of all energy usage in a typical home — more than twice as much as major appliances. A smart thermostat alone can reduce energy costs in an average home by up to 12%, according to Google Nest. And the options for making an HVAC system smarter and more efficient extend beyond the thermostat.

Reliable Connectivity

For a smart HVAC system to work efficiently, it requires a reliable home internet network to relay real-time information to and from a variety of connected devices. But as the number of connected devices in a typical home continues to rise at a rapid rate, home networks are increasingly under a bandwidth strain.

To avoid smart device disconnections, builders should plan for bringing fiber optic into the home and distributing it throughout, by adding a variety of ethernet-connected access points that connect back to a central and easily accessed media panel.

This not only provides a robust network to power an efficient smart HVAC system, but also offers the flexibility to connect some smart devices directly to the network via ethernet rather than relying on Wi-Fi.

Smart Vents

For homes with forced air heating and cooling systems, smart vents are a simple way to increase efficiency. They also give homeowners more control over how to heat and cool their home.

Smart vents open and close air flow to a room or space, just like normal vents, but they can be controlled by from your smartphone or be preprogrammed to follow a customizable schedule. They can also operate automatically in conjunction with other factors, such as the detected temperature, whether there are people in the room, and even what the weather forecast is.

Smart Sensors

Smart sensors for HVAC systems come in a variety of flavours. They can be combined with smart thermostats and smart vents to relay real-time data and enable a system that automatically optimizes temperatures throughout the home.

Smart temperature sensors are the most common. They can be placed in different rooms and when connected to a smart thermostat can either follow a pre-set schedule, or use algorithms or learn and optimize energy usage over time.

Some smart sensors can also detect whether someone is in the room, and turn off the heating or cooling in that room if it’s empty. Others can use geofencing technology to detect specific family members based on their smartphone and deliver the preferred temperatures for different family members in different spaces.