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Smart Thermostat vs. Traditional EMS

Apr 28, 2017 2:01:31 PM

If you’re looking to save money and solve temperature imbalances in your building, it’s wise to compare options on the market today. When it comes to HVAC systems, you have the choice between a traditional Energy Management System (EMS) and a smart thermostat.

 EMS vs Smart Thermostat


The EMS is an industry standard – yet EMS technology hasn’t changed over the past several decades. Most homes, buildings and offices today make use of a traditional EMS. Traditional EMS’s regulate temperature by opening and closing dampers after a temperature imbalance is detected. Users can set the temperature by programming each individual thermostat via analog buttons. 

Smart thermostats use cloud computing to predict temperature imbalances before they occur based on the weather, positioning of the building and data from previous days. Some systems also provide the ability to control dampers more precisely. They allow opening or closing for fine-tuning of temperature control and the ability to regulate the temperature in specific rooms.

Cloud Computing

Intelligent thermostat systems give users the ability to remotely control temperature and schedule changes to multiple buildings at once. They also provide more insight into how energy is being used.

What are the pros and cons of these options?

Traditional EMS

Smart Thermostat

  • PROS

    • Cheap
    • Industry standard
    • Simple interface


  • CONS

    • Lack of control
    • Difficult to achieve consistency
    • Energy wastage
  • PROS

    • Proactive, not reactive
    • Specific zone control
    • Remote controllable
    • Provide up to 70% energy savings


  • CONS

    • Upfront cost
    • Learning curve


Although smart thermostats can have a larger upfront cost, the ROI (return on investment) is typically under two years. This offsets the initial cost rather quickly and studies have shown that the use of a predictive HVAC system can save up to 70% in total energy costs. In addition, benefits such as remote control access and energy saving insights make smart thermostats a compelling option.

Let's compare a few more differences:

EMS vs Smart Thermostat Chart 


As you can see, a new, intelligent thermostat system can provide a wider range of flexibility. And their ability to reduce energy wastage makes them a more sustainable option

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Sarah Baker

Written by Sarah Baker

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