Do You Need a Smart Thermostat?
by Dave Noel | August 14, 2018
With the Texas summer heat reaching peak intensity, everyone is doing their best to stay cool while also trying to keep their energy costs under control. As you know, managing summer cooling costs is a challenge. Running your air conditioning at full blast, 24/7 can take a toll on your energy bill. But going without is out of the question. So there’s got to be a way to save, right? Well, there is. Say hello to the smart thermostat.
The Smart Way to Cool and Save
As technology has gotten better and more affordable, smart thermostats have become very popular lately. If it still seems like an expensive gadget, you might be wondering if smart thermostats are worth the cost of investment? They are absolutely are and are by no means are they just a pricey toy.
Heating and cooling make up for about half of the average American electricity bill, making climate control the most significant draw on your home’s overall energy usage. For most, the benefit of being able to control your AC from the palm of your hand is benefit enough. However, the real value of a smart thermostat is having a system that automatically monitors, manages, and adjusts your home climate. This system can quickly help to minimize your energy waste and maximize your savings.
These Wi-Fi connected thermostats can also learn your schedule, your climate preferences, and even detect when you’re home or away. This helps to save on energy by automatically adjusting the temperature setting based on what your current needs are.
As an additional benefit, many models are equipped to give you real-time usage information and updates about your system. You can receive notifications to change your air filter, diagnose problems with your A/C unit, suggestions to make more energy-efficient choices and take the guesswork out of setting the right temperature in your home.
Old vs. New: What Is a Regular Thermostat?
For those unfamiliar, a thermostat is that box on the wall that controls the AC and heat in your home. Other than occasionally pressing a few buttons when we’re hot or cold, we rarely give it much thought as regular thermostats are limited in their capabilities.
Most of us turn down the temperature in the summer and then up in the winter. The thermostat kicks in when the inside temperature drops lower or raises above the set temperature, triggering your AC unit or heater to turn on. Once the room reaches the desired temperature, the thermostat instructs the AC or heater to turn off.
So, What’s a Smart Thermostat?
Smart thermostats let you get smart about controlling your heating and cooling, so you only use as much energy as you absolutely need. They account for a variety of factors, such as your at-home and away times, what areas of the house you use the most, and what temperatures you prefer at during different times of the day. And you can do this all from the palm of your hand, via the handy app that comes with most smart thermostats.
While you’re still at work, you can switch on your AC before heading home. You can also program it to turn on and off based on your schedule, the current weather, and even when a certain number of people are in your home.
In addition to these smart customization capabilities, smart thermostats also give you keen insights into your energy usage patterns, revealing just how much energy it takes to keep your home cool in the summer. Some models even compare your AC and heater use to the average household in your neighborhood and send you helpful updates that show how much more energy you’re saving (or spending) and suggestions for better energy conservation.
The real genius behind the smart thermostat is you don’t actually have to program it at all if you don’t want to. Many of these Wi-Fi-enabled thermostats intuitively learn your habits and preferences as you start using them. Your smart thermostat will develop a schedule for you in a matter of weeks. Of course, if it gets too hot or cold, you can open the app at any time and manually adjust the temperature and help your thermostat learn.
How Do Smart Thermostats Work?
Smart thermostats function just like regular thermostats. You can control the device via a smartphone app, but you can also use the touch-based interface on the device itself—just like on a traditional thermostat. Many people choose to adjust the temperature with the conventional controls as they become more accustomed to the app. This function also saves you from discomfort if you ever lose Wi-Fi (or misplace your phone) for an extended time, such as during a storm or scheduled maintenance in your area.
How Much Can You Save With a Smart Thermostat?
Smart thermostats can help you save money on your energy bill in a number of ways. You can save almost $200 a year alone by just programming your thermostat correctly. Research conducted by ecobee, found that smart thermostat users can save as much as 23% on their heating and cooling costs. With these kinds of savings, you can pay for the entire purchase price of a new smart thermostat in less than a year or two.1
There’s also features the “eco” or “auto home/away” settings on many of these new devices. These features help you save considerable energy when you’re not home by automatically raising or lowering the temperature based on the ambient conditions outside.
There is also the convenience factor. Have you ever let the AC or heater run solely because it was too inconvenient to get up and adjust it? With your smart thermostat controls accessible right in your phone, you can change the thermostat temperature from wherever you are.
How Much Do Smart Thermostats Cost?
The cost of smart thermostats depends on the model and brand you choose, and level of sophistication. Some smart thermostats come in around $100, while others exceed $500.
Most smart thermostats are fairly simple to install and set up, but there may be additional costs to keep in mind, such as installation costs or any extra tools or materials required. Many of these smart devices come with simple, easy-to-understand instructions that make for quick and easy do-it-yourself home installations. For those of us who aren’t technically savvy enough to install a smart thermostat effectively and safely, professional installation averages at around $100-$250, but can be as much as $400.
How to Save on Smart Thermostats
Some states and local city governments incentivize installing a smart thermostat with rebates, so be sure to run a search on rebates or other perks available in your area to help you save on a new device. Your energy provider also might offer exclusive discounts on smart thermostats, so check with them as well.
Does the Benefit Really Outweigh the Cost?
All in all, the benefits of smart thermostats greatly outweigh the price tag. Smart thermostats level the playing field for homeowners and make it easy to take advantage of energy-saving opportunities. Not only do they provide easy-to-use automated programming, so you really don’t have to think about a thing, but they also give you in-depth look into your actual energy usage and help you get smarter about your energy usage and make cost-cutting habit changes.
For those looking to learn more about smart thermostats, we can help. As one of the leading energy providers in North America, Amigo Energy isn’t just committed to providing top-flight energy service and customer support; we also advocate for the adoption of green energy initiatives and technology like smart thermostats.
If you want to understand your energy usage better or want to learn how you can lower your energy consumption, click here to learn more about the ecobee, widely-ranked as 2018’s best smart thermostat.
- “A Guide to Energy-Efficient Heating and Cooling.” Energy Star, www.energystar.gov/ia/partners/publications/pubdocs/HeatingCoolingGuide%20FINAL_9-4-09.pdf
- “Savings from your ecobee.” ecobee, www.ecobee.com/savings