Smart thermostats are all the rage these days, but the real question is, “How smart is a smart thermostat?”
Here’s what a smart thermostat can do for you, and how to determine whether you really need one.
What on Earth Is a Smart Thermostat?
Regular thermostats allow you to adjust the temperature in your home manually; basically it’s a simple control panel for your air conditioning and heating system. Programmable thermostats allow you to set a specific temperature and the thermostat changes it based on how warm or cold it is inside your home or the time of day. What makes smart thermostats so “smart” is that they learn based on your actions, let you remotely control the climate in your home, display energy use in real-time and can even regulate themselves based on climate conditions such as humidity.
For instance, you can tell them to turn off after you leave for work in the morning and then tell them to turn back on just in time for you to come home. Many smart thermostats will indicate how long it takes to make the change you’ve requested, so you can tell the thermostat exactly when you want it to turn on. As you can see, a climate control system like this has many benefits especially if you have a family and are gone most of the day.
An added benefit is that most smart thermostats can be managed from a web app or smartphone. On the remote interface you can easily see how much you’re spending on cooling and heating, adjust the programming to save money and see the results instantly.
What Types of Smart Thermostats Are There?
Smart thermostats typically come in two categories:
- Smart Wi-Fi Thermostat
- Smart Learning Thermostat
A smart Wi-Fi thermostat allows you to completely customize your heating and cooling schedule for every day of the week with as many active cycles as you want. In addition to a custom schedule, you can use your computer, tablet and smartphone to remotely monitor them and make any changes. For instance, if you decide to work only in the morning on a Friday, you can remotely turn your cooling or heating on and come home to a comfortable temperature.
This type of thermostat gives you total control over when your home’s heating and cooling system operates, thereby eliminating unnecessary and expensive wasted energy.
The second type of smart thermostat is the learning thermostat. Instead of depending on a schedule based on user input, learning thermostats start with a base temperature setting for heating and cooling and then learn the user’s desired temperature and schedule based on any changes made by interaction with the device. This however does require consistent interaction with the thermostat over a period of time so the thermostat can learn your patterns.
Will a Smart Thermostat Save You Money?
Everybody loves to save money and the potential to save on heating and cooling is what attracts most people to smart thermostats in the first place. But can you save enough to justify paying $250 for a thermostat?
Let’s look at some numbers.
Nest, a brand of thermostat, did a study and found, “a 10-12% savings on heating and 15% savings on cooling, or about $131-145 in savings a year.”
Other smart thermostat manufacturers reported similar claims:
“Nest users have reported an average of $10-$20 a month savings
ecobee claims an average savings of 23%
Honeywell has an Energy Savings calculator”
Therefore, if you calculate the total savings per month then the $250 smart thermostat will pay for itself within a couple of years. Although these figures are drawn from average usage and don’t take into consideration other factors such as:
- Current energy usage
- Utility costs in your geographical area
- The home and insulation
- Heating ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system
In the end, the only thing smart thermostats really do is take the repetitiveness out of having to constantly adjust the temperature in your home and adds some innovative perks of convenience.
So if the thought of manually having to adjust the thermostat every time you leave the house, every time you come home and having to think about whether or not you should change it while you’re out running errands is a hassle, the smart thermostat may very well be worth it.
Looking to upgrade to a smart thermostat for your heating and cooling system? Contact MM Comfort throughout the Seattle area to help with your Heating and Cooling needs.
MM Comfort experts can help you with new installations, repairs and servicing of your current HVAC system or help you choose the best heating and cooling options for your home, no matter how big or small it may be. Call us at 425.533.9058, or use our online contact form to arrange for a free heating and cooling consultation.