Nexia Home Intelligence is offering a new opt-in advanced diagnostic service that allows your local dealer to remotely monitor your home's heating and cooling setup. Should there be a problem with your heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system, you'll receive an alert on your iOS, Android, or Windows Phone device so that you can schedule a repair or maintenance call before the minor issue turns into a major one.

It's a free service available to owners of Trane and American Standard Wi-Fi enabled thermostats. A Nexia account is also required, though there's no charge for that either. (All three brands belong to the same parent company: Ingersoll Rand.) Once you register for an account, you can opt into the service, thereby giving your local dealer permission to access real-time and historical performance data on your HVAC system through a secure website.

Purchase a Nexia bridge and sign up for a $10-per-month subscription service and you can add other components to your system, including Schlage entry locks, door/window sensors, and Z-Wave lighting controls from GE and Leviton.

System alerts range from routine maintenance reminders to malfunctions and are also automatically sent to your local dealer, who will contact you about scheduling an appointment. You can't skip the middle man and view the diagnostic data yourself; but if you're concerned about privacy, Nexia ensures that your local dealer can't access your personal Nexia account. While not stated, I suspect the likely reason this data is off limits to customers is to prevent a homeowner from attempting an HVAC repair based on an alert, and then hurting or mortally wounding themselves.

Nexia's diagnostic service could make repairs quicker and cheaper. By being able to diagnose problems remotely, the technician can arrive at the scene with the proper equipment and replacement parts and get right to fixing the problem without the need for time-consuming troubleshooting steps.

Why This Matters: The dog days of summer are right around the corner and take it from me, you don't want to be sitting around with a malfunctioning air conditioner. As (bad) luck would have it, Nexia's announcement arrived just as I'd received news that my own central air unit is in need of replacement. Luckily for me, I rent my home so it's up to the landlord to foot the costly bill; but if he had been able to receive alerts like the ones Nexia is offering, the situation might have been avoided.

I don't have a vested interest in Nexia, nor do I know if the remote diagnostics work as advertised. But what I can tell you is my AC problem has been a nightmare scenario. The initial HVAC technician my landlord hired was in poor health and had a tough time troubleshooting the issue. After two weeks of failed repairs, showing up with the wrong tools, and cancelled appointments, it was finally determined that the central AC unit needed replaced altogether. That's scheduled to be done on July 1 by another company, turning two weeks of no AC into a month of trying to keep cool using box fans.

In theory, Nexia's service could have led to an earlier diagnosis and possibly a repair. At the very least, there would have been a heads up, and the technician would have known what to look for instead of fumbling around half blind.

"Convenience is one of the primary benefits of a smart home, and the addition of diagnostic capabilities to Nexia Home Intelligence gives homeowners the unprecedented option of having heating and air conditioning issues addressed proactively before experiencing downtime," said George Land, head of Nexia Home Intelligence. "That's a win for busy homeowners, who can rest easy knowing their system will alert technicians to issues in real time. And our dealers appreciate the ability to diagnose an issue in advance so they can make house calls more efficient and cost effective for their customers."

For Nexia, offering the free service adds value to its connected-home system and helps differentiate it from a growing number of competitors.