How Home Thermostats Work

Talking Thermostats

Talking thermostats may seem like one of those unnecessary futuristic inventions straight out of an episode of "The Jetsons," but they're actually quite practical for senior citizens, people who are visually impaired or blind, and other people with special needs. Talking thermostats announce the time, day, temperature setting and room temperature, plus they have audio instructions for setup.

Even though talking thermostats are most helpful to people with vision impairments, they can also be useful to the general population.

It's often difficult to know when there's a problem in your heating and cooling system, and major problems can cost thousands of dollars to repair. Even minor problem can lead to far more serious and costly repairs if not diagnosed in a timely manner. Talking thermostats can end up saving you lots of time, money and stress because they alert you when you need to have your system serviced. They also let you know when you need to change the system filter. Promptly replacing the filter lowers the cost of heating and cooling your home and also helps people control allergies and asthma.

Some talking thermostats even recognize and respond to voice commands. You simply say an activation word, such as "thermostat," followed by a command like "raise" or "lower," and the rest is automated. Talking thermostats are able to do this because they use DSP, or digital signal processors, to process audio and speech. First, the DSP filters out real-world analog signals. Then, the microprocessor changes them into digital signals. After the signals have been converted, they're sent through application-specific integrated circuits, or ASICS, and the thermostat reacts in real time.

Because talking thermostats are high-end, cutting-edge accessories to heating and cooling systems, they come equipped with all of the user-friendly functions that other quality thermostats boast. A built-in time-delay function keeps your system from immediately starting or stopping if it's accidentally adjusted. Stopping and starting HVAC systems puts a lot of wear and tear on the compressor, which is the most expensive part of the system, so the delay function is quite important. Talking thermostats are also programmable, which allows you to heat or cool your home only when it's necessary.