Service and specialty contractors are constantly looking for new ways to differentiate from the competition—one option is offering building automation and connected thermostats as a value-added service. One HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) contractor is doing just that, adding smart thermostats to its lineup of HVAC equipment and giving customers a high-tech way to adjust settings.

Frost Brothers Heating and Air, www.airconditioningdenton.biz, Denton, Texas, a heating and cooling contractor serving Lewisville, Plano, and Denton, Texas, provides installation and repair services for a plethora of heating and cooling systems. This week, the specialty contractor announced it is adding a new piece of equipment to its lineup—Nest Smart Thermostats.

Nest Smart Thermostats from Nest Labs, www.nest.com, Palo Alto, Calif., are what the company calls learning thermostats, meaning the devices can sense the ambient environment of the room and can adjust accordingly. The thermostats are also connected to the Internet, meaning building owners and homeowners can adjust settings on a smartphone or tablet.

Connected thermostats have been gaining momentum lately, as many homeowners and business owners want an easy way to manage electricity consumption via an energy-management system. Products such as the Nest wireless thermostat have been driving this demand for smart thermostats among consumers. But the company is not alone. Other big-name manufacturers including Honeywell, www.honeywell.com, Morris Township, N.J., have also developed a smart thermostat that allows users to access and manage the device via a smartphone.

For HVAC contractors, adding connected thermostats to equipment offerings could be one element that sets the business apart from the competition.

Frost Brothers Heating and Air says many of its residential and commercial users are looking for HVAC systems that are easier to manage and saves energy consumption in the long run, and smart thermostats fit this need due to the extensive electricity-saving features and ease of making adjustments via the Internet.

As the smart home and building concept begins to takeoff, homebuilders, specialty contractors, and building owners can remain competitive by offering connected technologies as part of the package.