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One of those decisions is energy savings, something Crumpton pinpoints as the biggest selling point in both residential and commercial settings.

“If you’re running a building or running a household, I think that energy costs are on the frontal lobe for most,” he said. “I think it’s playing back and forth between the commercial and residential markets. People are seeking out how to reduce their overall cost, and that’s true at home or at their office: One carries to the other.”

Ed Blittschau, vice president of marketing, White-Rodgers for Emerson’s Commercial and Residential Solutions platform, said saving money is a top motivator for consumers upgrading from traditional thermostats. In a nationwide analysis, customers who use the Sensi thermostat were found to save about 23 percent on HVAC energy usage by using features like scheduling, remote access, and geofencing.

“Simplicity and reliability are huge selling points for us,” Blittschau said. “Additionally, there are often utility rebates available on smart products, which can soften the blow of a higher price point and, in some cases, pay for the entire initial purchase.”

Smart thermostats take the responsibility for energy savings off the end user, and that’s a big draw, according to Crumpton.

“I think that so many people are agitated by old technology,” he said. “It always comes down to they don’t want to be cooling a space down to a comfortable level at 3 a.m. So if you set it at 75°F in the summer, you’re like ‘Shoot, I have to remember to turn that off before I leave for work,’ and then it’s an hour, hour and a half cooling off when you get back … versus the ability to accommodate your schedule. That goes right back into energy savings primary and comfort secondary, in my mind.

“I think it’s expected,” Crumpton continued. “I think if you’re buying a new home or buying a new building, you expect a digital device on the wall, and there’s no reason in the world that it’s not Wi-Fi enabled. If you think about IoT and how it’s affecting smart homes, it’s all moving that direction. In five years, we won’t even be thinking about whether it’s a web-enabled thermostat: It will be.”


With e-commerce continuing to rise and some smart-home manufacturers pushing direct-to-consumer marketing, two contractors from The NEWS’ advisory board share their thoughts on thermostat sales in the Amazon era.

Crumpton: I think the shift to digital means less brand loyalty. This is particularly so for the “Saturday morning warriors” crowd — the DIY guys and gals. Most are brand agnostic. You could go to The Home Depot or Lowe’s and buy a thermostat that says Honeywell on it, or Aprilaire, or whatever brand … they don’t seem to be as sensitive to the name on thermostat as to the equipment controlling it. I think it’s because we use the iPhone, Samsung Galaxy, the Google phone, and they all work [with the thermostat]. Digitization levels the playing field.

It’s the same thing I see on the commercial side. Sometimes, people think they’re a little more skilled than they are: There will be a maintenance-type guy in a facility who’s like, “I’ll just change these thermostats over to smart stats,” or “I’ve installed doorbells; how much harder can this be?” With newer equipment, though, there are more wires than they’re accustomed to seeing. They can make a good guess, but sometimes that guess can burn up a control board, burn up a transformer. I always say, call a professional. Why do you want to risk that over the $100 it would cost to do it right?

Sammataro: The folks who want us to install something they’ve already bought … it’s a very, very low percentage, about 2 or 3 percent of customers or potential customers who call. I would say the percentage who call to ask is close to the percentage who do it themselves and ask us to fix it.

It may increase a little because of the internet and the awareness out there, but you’ve always had that, you’re always going to have that. Since Nest came out — and they were the forerunners [of direct-to-consumer smart thermostat marketing] — I’ve still been getting about the same number of calls as you would get from people who’d go to The Home Depot and then say “Can you install my mercury thermostat?”

About ABC Cleaning, Inc. of Orlando, FL

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