Carrier jumps into smart-thermostat market with Côr

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The idea of a self-regulating smart thermostat isn’t new. Nest Labs popularized the product when it unveiled its eponymous smart thermostat in November 2011.

Now, prominent heating and air-conditioning (HVAC) equipment manufacturer Carrier has entered the fray.

Carrier unveiled the Côr (pronounced “core”) at the International Consumer Electronics Show in January 2015. We saw the product for ourselves during the International Air-Conditioning, Heating and Refrigerating Expo in Chicago that same month.

The Côr’s in-depth data reports break down your home heating and cooling energy usage, which allows a homeowner to control his/her home energy costs beyond the level of control that other smart thermostats deliver, Carrier says. For example, the Côr’s energy-management reports can be reviewed in perpetuity. By comparison, the Nest allows you to review only 10 days of data.

Carrier’s thermostat also provides tips to maximize energy savings, such as recommending that you turn down your thermostat to 65 degrees Fahrenheit from, say, 69 degrees during early-morning hours. It also shows you how much money that such an action would save. Further, you can implement the suggestion by pressing the touch screen and accepting the suggested change, which is a feature that’s unique to the Côr ($250 plus installation charges).

Matthew Pine of Carrier tells us that another aspect of the thermostat that sets it apart from its competitors is its user interface. The data presentation that you see on the Côr’s touch screen is the same that you’d see on your smartphone or tablet computer through Carrier’s companion mobile application. Pine says the universal presentation provides a streamlined experience for consumers.

Like other smart thermostats, the Côr uses sensors to track your movements when you’re at home and the weather to adjust your home’s heating and cooling settings automatically. You can tweak the settings remotely through your mobile device.

William J. Kelly, who is an expert in energy efficiency and has written for Consumers Digest on energy-related topics, believes that smart thermostats will continue to appear on the market over the next 2 years. He believes that manufacturers increasingly will produce smart thermostats to capture buyers who expect smart technology in every appliance.

Kelly couldn’t quantify what the market might look like in 2 years, however, because the capability of startups (like Nest) to penetrate the market never has been better.  For example, we found three smart-thermostat projects on the crowdfunding website Kickstarter as of this writing.

Kelly and Pine say the higher cost of a smart thermostat, which typically costs around $250, often is negated in 1–2 years from the energy savings.

Pine says the Côr is compatible with “nearly all” competitors’ HVAC systems but that the device works best when it’s paired with a Carrier system.

– K. Carlson