Three privacy questions to ask before buying a smart thermostat
Smart home devices are everywhere. From smart speakers to kitchen appliances to thermostats, these devices are helping people live a more convenient, comfortable life. How this happens is through technology that often analyzes your habits and patterns. While there are significant advantages to using smart technology, it’s important to consider: How much of your privacy are you giving up while using smart home devices?
According to a report from the Smart Energy Consumer Collaborative (SECC), data security and privacy remain a top concern for consumers. Nearly two-thirds of all survey respondents said they are concerned about potential data leaks, and 45% of those who do not have a smart home device see data privacy as a barrier to purchasing.
One smart home device that is growing in popularity is a smart thermostat. This is in part due to the many benefits it offers, including the ability to save money, use energy more efficiently and have a comfortable house year-round. To be most effective, a smart home device can virtually “feel” and “listen” to what is happening in your home. That’s why, as you consider a smart thermostat from one of the many companies in this fast-growing market, asking a few key questions can help you better understand how they use your information.
What data are they collecting – and what will they do with it?
In particular, watch for how companies use your activity data. Even if a company confirms it does not share or sell your data to third parties, it is possible it may still be using your thermostat data (such as when you are home or not home) for other purposes beyond heating and cooling your house.
Does the thermostat require you to integrate with a larger platform?
Does the product require you to use its smart home platform or have other requirements to use the basic features of the thermostat? Activities like these often give companies easy access to your data. You should be able to easily use your thermostat without jumping through hoops.
Are they recording what you say?
Some smart thermostats include a microphone so you can use your voice to interact with the thermostat. If it has a microphone, do you know how that information is being used or stored? If this is a concern for you, there are smart thermostat options without microphones available.
Selecting the right smart thermostat
Smart thermostats are increasingly common in homes worldwide — and for good reason. They enable homeowners to easily control their ideal temperature and even lower their energy costs through the touch of a smartphone. The key with any smart home product is to do your research to ensure you are buying a smart thermostat that meets your needs without sacrificing your privacy.
Emerson, a trusted thermostat manufacturer with over a 100-year history in the HVAC industry, offers one such option with its Sensi smart thermostats. Upon initial account setup, Emerson only collects basic information and is transparent in the fact that it does not sell your personal information or leverage your thermostat activity data for other targeting or advertising purposes.
You don't need to trade your privacy for energy savings and a comfortable home.