Can a Smart Thermostat Save Me Money?

Can a Smart Thermostat Save Me Money?

Many homeowners want to know whether a smart thermostat can save them money, and the answer is an emphatic yes. In fact, the U.S. EPA estimates that the average American home can save anywhere between 10% and 30%. That estimate reflects annual savings across both the space heating and cooling portions of your utility bills. Let’s explore the features that may help you achieve those savings.

Remote Access and Control

Both programmable and smart thermostats provide scheduling, but internet connectivity is what sets the smart thermostat apart. Most brands offer an app that you can download to and use on your smartphone and other devices. This lets you check your thermostat and adjust it no matter where you are as long as you have cellular access. It’s a powerful tool. It ensures you’ll never lose money because you left on a business trip and forgot to set the temperature down.

Automatic Setback at Night

Much of the energy that the average household without a smart thermostat wastes occurs at night. Just think of all the money you spend on air conditioning and heating that you really don’t need. The EPA estimates that you can hit the 10% savings mark by lowering the thermostat 7-10 degrees for eight hours. What many people do is set the thermostat to lower or raise an hour after bedtime. You can then set it to return to normal an hour before. You won’t even have to do that if you choose a unit with adaptive recovery. It will automatically determine how best to get you back to your ideal temperature in time for your morning alarm.

Automatic Setback While at Work and School

You can claim even more savings while your family is at work and school. Just set the temperature to adjust at a time when everyone has left and readjust right before they return. You can save even more and make this easier on yourself by choosing a thermostat with geofencing. This feature lets you pair the family’s smartphones with the thermostat. It can then use GPS to determine when to adjust the thermostat. It can even detect family members on the way home and get the HVAC system ready for them.

Self-Learning Thermostat

Some of the most advanced smart thermostats have learning capabilities, and AI capabilities are on the horizon too. These thermostats can learn how your HVAC system performs and make adjustments for better energy efficiency. Some can even learn your climate and make predictions about indoor temperatures. Another popular feature is the ability to analyze user programming and make recommendations in order to optimize it.

Clogged HVAC Filter Notification

Push notifications and alerts are another useful feature of smart thermostats. Many of these thermostats will remind you when it’s time to change the HVAC filter. This is important as a clogged filter can diminish comfort and increase energy consumption. Some are even able to predict optimal replacement based on your schedule. For a more advanced solution, consider a system with a static air pressure sensor. It can sense pressure changes and alert you to check based on that data.

Weather Sensing

Internet access isn’t limited to remote control and push notifications. Some of the newest smart thermostats are able to access weather data online in real time. The thermostat can then adjust to temperature and humidity changes in advance in order to be more energy efficient.

Vacation Mode

Most smart thermostats have a vacation feature. It lets you set the safe minimum and maximum temperature for your home. You can put the system in vacation mode right before you leave or after you have via remote control. The system will then ignore the main programming and follow the vacation rules. It can save you substantially even if you’re gone for just two weeks. The savings can be even bigger if you’re going on an extended stay.

Energy Usage Data

Another money-saving feature many modern thermostats have is energy usage data collection. Some even provide energy reports, and those features are becoming even more sophisticated through the use of cloud computing. With this data you can isolate those times when you are using the most electricity. That may help you identify bad habits to eliminate or areas to focus your home improvement budget. It’s also a good idea to save your energy data. That will allow you to make month-to-month and year-to-year comparisons over time. Most thermostats let you save it locally. Some systems will save it to the cloud for you automatically.

Maintenance Notifications

Many smart thermostats can remind you when it’s time for maintenance. Traditionally, this has been as simple as reminding you in spring and reminding you again in fall. That said, predictive maintenance is one of the latest trends in HVAC. The industry expects it to become prevalent in the next decade and to result in a major reduction of carbon footprint and consumer costs. Most smart thermostats that support basic maintenance alerts now will work with the newer equipment when you upgrade.

Multiple Sensor Support

Thermostats, including smart thermostats, have traditionally had a single onboard temperature sensor. This is changing. There are many models available that now support multiple sensors for both single- and multi-zoned HVAC setups. Having multiple sensors de-emphasizes the importance of thermostat location. It also provides the thermostat more data for better energy efficiency. You also have the option to add other sensors, including for humidity and indoor air quality.

Energy Star Thermostat Rebates

The EPA certifies programmable and smart thermostats through its Energy Star program just as it does other HVAC-related devices. For many Energy Star thermostats, there are rebates available. You can see all the rebates available to you on the EPA website based on your zip code. The rebates are significant in many cases and can dramatically offset the initial investment. That helps to clear the largest hurdle for many homeowners. In some cases, there may even be two or more rebates available through different organizations.

Avoid Peak Energy Rates

Some areas have peak energy hours, which are times during which electricity costs more. Thermostats with a peak energy feature let you lower your costs during these periods. They do this by lowering or raising the temperature by a set amount. Basic setups require you to program the peak times. Advanced setups may be able to pull the data automatically if your utility company supports it.

Local Energy Programs

Many utilities in the U.S. have begun to offer opt-in energy programs that require a smart thermostat. During times of peak load, the utility can adjust your HVAC system automatically to lower demand. The benefit for you is that you get a credit on your electricity bill each month. Note that if you have this option in your area, check the utility website for supported devices. Not all smart thermostats may be eligible.

Are You Ready to Upgrade Your Home to a Smart Thermostat?

If you live in O’Fallon or the surrounding areas and would like to install a smart thermostat, Hoff Heating & AC can help. Our HVAC technicians also install, maintain and repair electric and gas furnaces, air conditioners and air-source and geothermal heat pumps. We also specialize in ventilation, air purification and filtration, germicidal lights, dehumidifiers and humidifiers.

Call us today or contact us online with any additional questions or to schedule a service appointment or in-home consultation.