Smart Thermostats, Are They Worth It?

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Programmable thermostats have the potential to save their users money during the highs of the summer and the lows of the winter. The secret to maximizing your savings from these devices is the way you use them. 

According to Energy Star, about 45% of a home’s electricity bill is used for heating and cooling (that averages about $2,100-$2,500 annually). The idea behind a smart thermostat is to be able to reduce that number by 10-30%. This can prove to be quite difficult however due to users not being educated on how to maximize those savings. 

What Is Keeping You From Saving Money?

There are three common mistakes that people make when they first start using their smart thermostats. Heating and cooling uncommon spaces, how your HVAC unit runs in the middle of the night, and constantly adjusting the thermostat to meet your needs. A large portion of the monthly bill goes to heating or cooling unoccupied spaces such as spare bedrooms or the living room during the middle of the night. This causes your bill to stay high even though you aren’t actually in those rooms.

You also don’t need to heat or cool your home as much when you are sleeping. For every 1 degree Fahrenheit you turn your thermostat down, you will use 1% less energy. Another reason users fail to save money is that they end up changing the thermostat more after they install a smart thermostat then they did before. Continuously changing the thermostat leads to your HVAC unit having to work overtime to make up the difference in temperature. 

What Can You Do To Maximize Your Savings?

  1. If you decide to use a smart thermostat, be sure to program it to only target the most commonly occupied spaces of your home. If your thermostat controls the entire home, try utilizing portable heaters and coolers when you are just using one room.

  2. Set your thermostat so that your HVAC unit is not running as much during the middle of the night. If you reduce your heating by 10 degrees at night, you will use 10% less energy. The savings are larger the bigger the difference between inside and outside temperatures.

  3. Program your thermostat to come on 1 hour before you wake up and 1 hour after you normally go to sleep. Most of the smart thermostats today can be programmed so that when you are not home the HVAC unit will decrease usage which will save you money. One thing to avoid, however, is to not change the thermostat while you are home. This is a common mistake that new users will do because they now have the ability to lower or raise the temperature of the room from their phone or from the interface of the thermostat. The more you mess with the temperature, the more you will be paying on your monthly bill because your heating and cooling system will be running more often.