Homeowners enjoy taking pride in every aspect of their homes. From the timeless interior to the backyard landscaping, every feature (especially in a custom-built home) is an opportunity to display thoughtful design and care and attention to features. And that now includes the home’s climate! From smartphones to smart cars, smart TV’s, and smart refrigerators, technology is improving our everyday lives. It only makes sense to upgrade to smart homes, too! A ‘smart home’ involves remote control and automation of lighting, security, sometimes appliances, and temperature via a smart thermostat. Outside of simply following the ‘smart’ trend, the advantages of a smart thermostat are proving to be worth the switch from the more well-known, traditional-style thermostat. Smart thermostats can increase energy efficiency and decrease the price that you – and the environment – pay for comfort in your own home.
What Makes a Smart Thermostat So ‘Smart’ Anyway?
We know why smartphones are smart – they do everything from wake us up, designate our commute route, schedule the day, reminded us what groceries to get, send the recipe for dinner, and on and on and on! (You know there’s at least one app you can’t live without.) So the advantages of a smartphone compared to an older phone are pretty well-known. But what about the advantages of a smart thermostat vs a traditional thermostat? Thermostats have been programmable and helped save energy for a long time, so what makes them so ‘smart’ now?
There are three main types of thermostats, traditional or regular, programmable, and smart. And there are a few different types of smart ones, too: connected, zoned, learning, and combinations of those. Defining these types helps distinguish the differences between a regular and a smart thermostat.
- Regular – This is the basic control panel that allows you to control heating and cooling in your home. To avoid astronomical energy charges, a regular thermostat requires adjusting a few times every day (before bed, when you leave for work).
- Programmable – This type eliminates manual adjustments throughout the day. Energy saved from a consistent schedule can result in financial savings up to $180 per year. Though, a recent study found that almost 50% of households don’t set their programmable thermostats.
- Zoned – Zoned thermostat systems can vary the temperature of your home from room to room. For example, the heat can be turned up in your bedroom overnight without heating the rest of the house.
- Connected – A connected HVAC system is one that you can control remotely via your smartphone or online platform any time you have internet access.
- Learning – A learning thermostat can adjust itself after initially learning your living habits (when you go to work or wake up in the morning). It can also adjust automatically based on ambient conditions like humidity.
What are the Advantages of a Smart Thermostat?
The most beneficial smart thermostat is a combination of connected, zoned, and/or learning. But any of these types offer automation and greater control over your home’s climate, plus plenty of comfort and convenience.
- Convenience – Obviously convenience is a huge advantage of a smart thermostat, especially for those who often forget to change it (vs a temperature control freak). A smart thermostat does the work for you. It never forgets, and it always knows exactly how to adjust the temperature. And you know that panicky feeling you get when you’re on the plane, about to take off for your dream vacation and you’re wondering – of all things – if you forgot to turn the heat down? It’s no longer a problem when you can control your thermostat from anywhere!
- Comfort – While the exact monetary value may be hard to define, most people put a pretty big premium on comfort in their own home. One study showed that over 60% of the participants said their houses became “somewhat more comfortable” or “much more comfortable” while using a learning thermostat. A 60% chance of being more comfortable is good enough for me!
- Data reporting & alerts – Another benefit of smart thermostats is the comprehensive data and analytics the systems provide. By monitoring outdoor and indoor conditions, they can show you your energy consumption in real time. From a remote interface you can see detailed overviews and breakdowns of how much you’re spending, tweak the programming to save money, and see the results immediately. These smart systems can also alert you when something is wrong. Users can receive notifications via phone or email if the thermostat is disconnected due to a power outage, if the system is working sub-optimally, or if it needs annual maintenance like filter changes.
Will a Smart Thermostat Save Me Money?
Smart thermostats can run as high as $500 plus professional installation. However, most brands claim that they pay themselves off in as little as two years. (And you can sometimes cut costs by installing it yourself.) A smart thermostat will require more money at the outset than a simple programmable model, but the energy savings are worth noting.
Heating and cooling costs account for between 40% and 50% of a typical home’s overall energy cost. So, even more than the comfort and convenience advantages of a smart thermostat, homeowners can appreciate the financial savings. A typical home can reduce heating and cooling costs as much as 10% just by turning the thermostat back 7°-10°F for 8 hours/day. And a smart thermostat will do that for you, plus offer additional optimization. The most popular brands of smart thermostats claim up to a 23% energy savings.
The amount an individual household saves can vary quite a bit depending on your existing situation and thermostat habits though. You can use a calculator (here is one from Honeywell) to determine the potential savings.
Conclusion – Smarter IS Better
The important thing to consider, especially when building a new home, is the overall benefits of a smart home. Even if you don’t need all of the bells and whistles a smart home can provide, the advantages of a smart thermostat (vs a traditional one) are worth it. Smart thermostats – we recommend the Honeywell Lyric – help to maximize your home’s efficiency, provide comfort, convenience, peace of mind, and offer yet another reason to be proud of your home – as well as save you money!
If you’re interested in building an energy efficient home that you can be proud of, contact Icon Building Group to find out more. Use our convenient online form to contact us, or call (847) 796-6477, today.