According to research, you’re not the only one who hates their electric bill. Over 30% of US homeowners have trouble paying their monthly bills.
Does your home run on an outdated, standard thermostat? If so, it could be costing you money without you even knowing it. Traditional thermostats don’t have the modern capabilities to know the most cost-efficient temperature. This means your HVAC system is constantly running at settings that take money out of your pocket.
It might be time to consider upgrading to a smart thermostat. Investing in this change can save you up to 20% on your energy bill without adding any maintenance stress.
Are you wondering how smart thermostats work and if they’re right for you? Read this homeowner guide to learn more about how investing in a smart thermostat can save you time and money.
Smart Thermostats: What Are They and How Do They Work?
Before we go into the specs for smart thermostats, let’s talk about traditional thermostats first. If you don’t live in a newer home that’s upgraded to “smart status,” then this is the system that you’re probably familiar with.
Regular thermostats are basic control panels that let you adjust the heating and air conditioning system in your home. When you want your home at a certain temperature, you adjust the panel and let the system do its thing. When you want it to stop or if the temperature is not right for you, you have to change it again.
Some of you might have a programmable thermostat, which is the next step up. These have buttons on the panel that allow you to set a timer so that it kicks in on a schedule. Although these have more capabilities than standard models, their complicated design frustrates homeowners. In the end, most programmable thermostats become regular thermostats.
If your home has anything less than today’s smart thermostats, you’re probably losing money with high electric bills. Upgrading to a smart thermostat might be the best option for you.
Smart Thermostats Are Different
Smart thermostats are special because they learn from your behavior. They’re also in-tune with the rest of the house. You can control the settings remotely, and it gives you information like real-time energy consumption.
What does this mean, exactly? Maybe you’re leaving the house for a long work day and don’t want the heating system to run all day. With a smart thermostat, you can program it to kick in just in time to have the house nice and cozy when you get home. Not too soon and not too late.
What makes this possible is the thermostat’s ability to learn how long it takes to make the temperature change you requested. You can see how effective your system is and you won’t waste money cranking up the heat all day.
Most smart thermostats have a Wi-Fi chip that connects to the Internet. This gives you the freedom to control its settings through a smartphone app.
You can even connect some smart thermostats to your smart assistants like Amazon Alexa or Google Home. This lets you control your thermostat just by using your voice.
“Teach” and Control Your HVAC System
How do you “teach” your behaviors to your smart thermostat? The process is easy.
When it’s first installed, you’ll need to make manual adjustments for the first week. This normally means you’ll change it when waking, leaving the house, coming home, and going to bed.
In time, the thermostat learns those behaviors and can make those adjustments on its own. It does this through algorithms that process the data it receives. The more information it learns, the more adaptable it gets.
Soon, it will know the most cost-efficient settings for when outside temperatures are severe. It will know when to turn the AC on in the summer, and when to crank up the heat in winter.
Why Traditional Systems Are Costing You
Unlike smart thermostats, traditional thermostats give you less control. You have to make manual adjustments at home every time the temperature changes or the weather shifts. If you forget to turn it off when you leave for work, it runs all day and doesn’t stop.
They Need to Be Micro-Managed
Unless you’re 100% on top of things, there are going to be times when you forget to adjust the thermostat. This means you lose money because it’s running all day when it doesn’t need to be.
You might also make the mistake of cranking the heat up to warm your house as fast as possible. This technique sounds good in theory, but it’s actually costing you extra money.
They Aren’t Accurate
Most traditional thermostats aren’t precise in their readings. This means you often have to fiddle with it to get the temperature right. Every time it turns off or starts back up, it uses an extra boost of energy which takes money right out of your pocket.
They Don’t Care about Your Energy Bill
When your outrageous energy bill is on your mind, it can sometimes feel like your standard thermostat is working against you. It won’t tell you how long it takes to warm up or cool down the house. It keeps running even when no one is home. When you don’t know the most cost-efficient setting for your thermostat, it means you pay extra money every month.
How a Smart Thermostat Can Save You Money
You can expect to save 10%-20% on your energy bill when you install a smart thermostat instead of a traditional system. This is because smart thermostats give you the capability to control your home’s HVAC system in a cost-efficient way.
Types of Smart Thermostats
As we enter the age of “smart homes,” the market for smart home devices explodes with options. Today, there are various types of smart thermostats available for you to choose from.
The Learning Type
You have plenty of choices if you’re looking for a smart thermostat that can learn from your behavior and the environment. These types of thermostats will sense when someone’s home, if they’ve turned on the oven, or if the air is humid that day. Once it picks up on this data it can adjust itself accordingly.
The Connected Type
A bonus to some smart thermostat models is that they offer remote access from your phone or connected device. This means you can make adjustments from literally anywhere. Connected thermostats also let you access data right from your phone so you always know what’s happening.
The Type That Does Both
Of course, many popular brands will offer both learning abilities and connectivity. These types of smart thermostats will cost the most but give you all the capabilities.
What to Consider When Shopping
Before you decide to move ahead with a new smart thermostat, there are some things you need to consider. These are important checkpoints you should run through to make sure a smart thermostat is the best for your home.
Do You Use a Smartphone?
Smart thermostat features are enjoyed through a connected smartphone or device. If you still go old-school with a flip phone, then you might consider a standard programmable thermostat (or upgrading your phone).
Are You Willing to Invest?
Upgrading to a smart thermostat will take a small investment. You’ll need to pay both for the device itself and for professional installation. The investment is worth it in the long run, but it’s a price you’ll need to consider before moving ahead.
Are You Smart-Home Savvy?
A smart thermostat is more complicated than a standard thermostat. According to one study, 89% of homeowners struggle with programming their thermostat.
You’ll need to learn the program settings, buttons, and connectivity to be able to fully use a smart thermostat. You’ll also need to be comfortable with Wi-Fi.
Do you already have a programmable thermostat that you hate? When programmable thermostats came out twenty years ago, their clunky design became frustrating.
The good news is that smart thermostats are designed to be more user-friendly than programmable thermostats. Today’s new models feature large screens that only require a few simple taps to make changes.
Will It Work with Your Home’s HVAC System?
Before you purchase a smart thermostat, you need to make sure it’s compatible with your current HVAC system. Many of today’s gas furnaces and heat pumps have compatibility checkers that you can use online. You can also speak with an HVAC technician about how a smart thermostat will work with your system.
Cool Down, Save Up
Is it time to get smart with your thermostat? Upgrading to a smart thermostat can save you money and add comfort to your home. With smart capabilities like Wi-Fi connectivity, it’s easier than ever to adjust your home’s temperature from your phone.
Do you need to update your HVAC system before ordering a smart thermostat? We made a Homeowners HVAC Guide, which can help answer any questions you may encounter along your journey.