As of 2020, it is estimated that more than 35% of American homes have a smart thermostat, and the smart thermostat industry is expected to grow from about $2 billion to approximately $12 billion between now and 2030. Driving that growth is infrastructure and advancing technologies that are outmoding manual and even programmable thermostats. The EPA estimates that the average American home that invests in an Energy Star smart thermostat in 2022 will save at least 8% on heating and cooling annually, and with that in mind, let us consider the various ways you can use your smart thermostat to save money.
Manual vs. Programmable vs. Smart Thermostats
Traditional analog thermostats have a single temperature setting that must be adjusted by hand. Programmable thermostats are digital units that operate automatically based on a static schedule. Smart thermostats are digital units as well but are typically differentiated by their ability to learn and smart home integration along with various advanced features, such as:
- Mobile alerts
- Energy reports
- Internet-based control
How Much Energy Can a Smart Thermostat Save?
Manufacturers have estimated annual savings as high as 25%. The EPA through its Energy Star program has taken a much more conservative stance at 8% so as not to mislead American consumers because your actual savings will depend greatly on your home and the smart features available. The EPA estimates that over the course of a year, you will save at least $50, and in that case, your investment will easily pay for itself over the life of that equipment. In order to maximize your savings, you need to consider the built-in features of a smart thermostat but also the resources it has available to it.
Smart Feature: Scheduling
Scheduling is a standard feature of all smart thermostats and allows you to dictate temperature when and, if applicable, where. Most products marketed as smart thermostats have advanced feature sets that extend far beyond static scheduling. Still, this programming provides the foundation for those more advanced features. It allows you to assign your thermostat an initial behavior set while it is still learning. It also allows you to override the smart nature of your thermostat, such as if you want a sunroom with plants to be at a specific temperature regardless of other factors.
Smart Feature: Learning
A smart thermostat can benefit you through local learning. It can adjust to the preferences and schedules of your entire household, and it can shape its behavior around specific goals, such as maximizing energy savings. These devices are not only triggered by events but can use algorithms to make predictions. Some of the newer smart thermostats, for instance, can access weather data online to proactively adjust to local climate changes and thus save energy.
Smart Feature: Zoning
Zoned HVAC is an approach to home heating and cooling that allows for distinct climate zones that can be adjusted independently. While some programmable thermostats do support zoning, it often requires a smart thermostat in order to maximize the energy savings zoning allows. Consider a scenario in which all of the bedrooms are upstairs and the thermostat can lower or raise the temperature even more downstairs. A 5-degree difference, for instance, could result in an additional savings of $50 or more annually.
Smart Feature: Automatic Humidity Control
As home construction has advanced and the standards for energy efficiency have increased, it has become increasingly common to build homes with advanced ventilation systems along with whole-home dehumidification and humidification systems. Dehumidifiers and humidifiers are a trend among existing homes as well because they not only improve comfort but lower energy costs in the short term and equipment costs in the long term. Most smart thermostats on the market are able to interface with humidity sensors and make adjustments automatically just as they do with temperature.
Smart Feature: Energy-Saving Mode
Most smart thermostats now have an energy-saving mode that prioritizes energy usage over comfort. This mode can be activated and deactivated via the thermostat itself if you allow, and you can also enable and disable it as you deem necessary. This mode has become so sophisticated that smart thermostats can even account for the time-of-use rates of your local provider in order to take advantage of lower electricity rates.
Smart Feature: Geofencing
Geofencing is one of the most powerful features that a smart thermostat has, and it allows a thermostat to make decisions not only based on a learned schedule but what is happening in the moment. What geofencing means is that a smart thermostat can track the members of a household via GPS. This is generally accomplished through a smartphone, and pairing smartphones with modern thermostats is usually as easy as installing an app. These systems are advanced enough now to detect how far away you are from home and adjust the temperature so that it is at the ideal setting when you arrive. Likewise, if you have to leave early one morning, it can automatically turn down the heat or the air conditioning.
Smart Feature: Motion Sensing
Motion sensing allows your smart thermostat even more granular control and synergizes phenomenally well with zoned systems. Consider areas of your home that are seldom used. Your smart thermostat can maintain them at a higher or lower temperature in order to cut your costs, but when that area is suddenly in use, the system can now gradually adjust the temperature for better comfort.
Smart Feature: Smart Blinds
The smart home will continue to become the standard for the American home, and many households already have voice assistants, smart outlets, smart lighting and so forth. Through your local Wi-Fi network, your smart thermostat can communicate with all of these devices, and this communication can work both ways. Perhaps one of the cleverest interactions is smart thermostats and smart shades that are able to work together to take advantage of natural sunlight in order to lower heating costs.
Variable-Speed and Multi-Staged Systems
The more advanced your heating and cooling equipment, the better your smart thermostat is able to use it in a manner that saves you money. When it comes time to replace your furnace, air conditioner, heat pump or other HVAC equipment, consider those advanced features. The traditional air handler, for instance, is either on or off. But you now have the option of variable-speed motors. That means that the system can adjust to pressure changes, and that gives your smart thermostat much greater control over how much heated and cooled air is delivered and where.
Your Local Smart Thermostat Experts in Nashua
Proactive Heating has years of experience helping homeowners throughout Nashua and the surrounding areas stay cool in summer and warm in winter. You can count on us for all of your heating and cooling installation, maintenance and repair needs, and we also have an expert plumbing team that specializes in plumbing repair, drain cleaning, tank and tankless water heaters, sump pumps and water filtration. Call us today or contact us online with any questions or to schedule an appointment.