Very recently, we made a post highlighting the best smart thermostats on the market today. We made it clear that smart thermostats offer huge convenience, and they can help users save money on energy bills. But just how much can a household save by using a smart thermostat? Let's find out.
The idea behind a smart thermostat is that it will allow a home's HVAC system to run only when it is needed. The HVAC system is typically the largest contributor to one's energy bill. With a traditional analogue thermostat, a user has to choose between running the HVAC system all the time (expensive) or coming home to house where the HVAC system hasn't been running all day (uncomfortable). This can be somewhat mitigated using a standard programmable thermostat set on pre-determined schedule. However, a user will still be unable to adjust their HVAC system while they are away.
A smart thermostat offers major convenience, since it allows for the HVAC System to respond automatically with certain events. For example, a smart thermostat can be "taught" to turn off the HVAC system when a user presumedly leaves their house because they set their security system to arm away. That way, the HVAC system turns off at exactly the right moment. If you ever plan on leaving your home at different times of the day, a standard programmable thermostat won't be able to achieve this same level of automatic precision.
But the real money saving ability of a smart thermostat comes from the ability to control the HVAC system remotely. This is done by accessing an interactive service platform, such as Alarm.com or Total Connect 2.0. When this setup is done using an alarm system, the command will go from the interactive servers servers to the control panel (through WIFI or cellular communication), then to the smart thermostat (usually through WIFI or Z-Wave), and finally to the HVAC system (through a wired connection). Since most interactive services have their own mobile apps, this type of control and access can be achieved from virtually anywhere in the world.
So say you're away from home, and you're running late. Instead of arriving home at your expected time, it will now be several hours or even the next day until you get back. But oh no, your home's heating and cooling system is still running! If you don't shut it off, the energy bills are going to rack up! In this situation, just pull out your smart phone, access your interactive service account, and tell your smart thermostat to shut off the HVAC system. Just like that, you have saved money. And if you want your house to be comfortable when you arrive, access your account a little bit before you come home and activate your thermostat. It's that easy.
So how much can you really save on your energy bills with a smart thermostat? Well it depends. Obviously, the savings will be largest if you had a traditional thermostat that had the HVAC system running 24/7. Once you adjust to a programmable thermostat, assuming you use it as designed, you will save money in energy costs every time you leave the home and have the HVAC system stop running. But if you had an analogue or programmable thermostat that you adjusted meticulously, or if you almost never leave your home and always run your HVAC system, the savings won't be as large.
As for actual numbers, various studies have found that a typical smart thermostat will save users on average about 10% on heating costs and 15% on cooling costs. This translates to a savings of about $130 per year, or slightly more than $10 per month. But keep in mind, these savings will be larger in certain cases. We've heard of many users saving more than $200 per year in energy costs by using a smart thermostat. For these users, a smart thermostat essentially pays for itself in just a year's time.
The best option is to consider your energy-using habits and determine whether or not a smart thermostat is a good investment for your household. Either way, it will certainly be more convenient and offer more features than a traditional thermostat. And if you're wondering which smart thermostat we recommend, we gotta say we're pretty big fans of the new Honeywell T6 Z-Wave Thermostat.