Smart thermostats have long passed the novelty stage. Over the past decade these devices have proven themselves to be a convenient money saving tool for most households and businesses. While only about 40% of homes in the U.S. have a smart thermostat installed, adoption is increasing quickly as the cost of the devices have decreased dramatically in the past couple of years.
If you haven’t upgraded yet, here are the key benefits of a smart thermostats:
- Save energy and reduce heating and cooling costs
- Set schedules to automatically adjust temperatures
- Adjust the temperature from your phone
- Monitor and adjust temperature from any location
- Use voice controls to adjust the thermostat
- Reduce HVAC system wear
- Get HVAC system alerts and reminders
What is a smart thermostat?
Smart thermostats provide the same functionality as a traditional thermostat as far as controlling the temperature of your HVAC system. They connect to your heating and cooling system, monitor the indoor temperature and allow you to adjust your furnace or air conditioner as needed. This is where the similarities stop.
You can buy a “programmable” thermostat, which is not quite the same as a “smart thermostat”. These devices allow you to set schedules to adjust the temperature in your home automatically. For example you, you could set your programmable thermostat to set a temperature of 72 degrees at 8am everyday, and then to lower the temperature to 70 degrees at 10pm when you go to bed.
The smart thermostat takes things even further than a programmable one. The first key feature is that these devices can be controlled by your smartphone (or computer/tablet). You can adjust the temperature at any time, even if you’re not inside your home. Smart thermostats are connected to your WiFi network, which allows your devices to communicate with each other and the internet. Of course you can set heating and cooling schedules too, but being able to make adjustments on the fly, even away from home means you can reduce energy use if your plans change.
Some new thermostats offer sensors and/or geofencing via your smartphone to determine if anyone is at home, if not it can make adjustments to reduce energy usage. Other smart thermostats use artificial intelligence to learn how to best adjust the temperature based on your past temperature adjustments, indoor and outdoor temperatures, and your typical schedule.
Most smart thermostats now offer voice control. Voice commands are can be used in conjunction with the either the unit itself, or through a smart speakers such as Google Home or Amazon Alexa. “Hey Google, turn the thermostat down three degrees.”
Other features can include: The ability to add temperature sensors in multiple rooms to better regulate temperature, tracking weather forecasts to optimize temperature adjustments, reminders to change air filters, energy consumption reports, and touch screens with interactive features.
A number of studies have tried to nail down how much money you can save by installing a smart thermostat. These savings range from 5-20%, or an average annual savings of $100-$200 per year for a typical home. While home size, climate, weather, quality of the HVAC system, etc. all contribute to the amount of savings, it is clear that most households will cover the cost of a smart thermostat in just a couple of years.
High-end smart thermostats such as the original Nest and the latest Ecobee cost about $250. Nest, Ecobee, Honeywell, and Bosch all have options for around $150. Less featureful units can be purchased for less than $100.
If you’re ready to upgrade to a smart thermostat, give us a call at 316-462-2572.