Smart Thermostats: A No-brainer

Nowadays, just about anything in a home can be controlled remotely or hands-free with “smart” devices, from lights to outlets, garage doors, doorbells, and beyond. While smart devices offer obvious advantages, few are as advantageous as smart thermostats – at least in terms of saving money.

For houses we inspect that have an older mechanical thermostat, we often include a “tip” comment in our report and encourage the client to consider upgrading to a smart thermostat, such as the popular Google Nest (although many manufacturers now make similar models). With an older, mechanical thermostat, the stat has to be physically changed, in the home, as desired. With a smart thermostat, however, the device can be set to automatically adjust the temperature setting at predetermined times, eliminating the need for in-person operation, or remembering to actually do it for that matter. The thermostat adjusts on its own, allowing for a true “set it and forget it” experience.

Programmable thermostats, which have been around for quite a while, offer this feature; but unlike a modern smart thermostat, they do not allow you to adjust settings remotely with a cell phone, tablet or computer from nearly anywhere. Maybe you’re gone on vacation, hours from home, and realize the thermostat is still programmed to normal temperatures that aren’t needed while you’re away. With a standard programmable thermostat, you’re stuck with some wasted energy and a higher heating/cooling bill while you’re gone; but if you have a newer smart thermostat, you can simply alter the settings right from where you are with a few clicks on a screen.

You may assume that this type of convenience and potential cost savings comes with an initially high and cost-prohibitive price tag, but the cost is surprisingly low – especially when compared to the payback time relative to your initial investment. On average, purchasing a smart thermostat and having it installed will set you back about $400-$500 in most areas, but you’ll quickly earn that money back in energy cost savings – often in less than a year. This is especially true for systems that run on fuel that tends to be expensive or that fluctuates somewhat dramatically in price, like fuel oil for example. Not only that, but a smart thermostat actually learns your temperature setting habits and tracks data related to your energy usage to provide at-a-glance feedback you can monitor to make the most of your system’s efficiency.

If you don’t already have a smart thermostat (or at least a programmable model), do yourself a favor and get one installed as soon as possible. Regardless of the specific type and model you choose, be sure to actually program it and track your cost to make the most of its cost saving benefits. You’ll earn your money back quickly and will enjoy savings long into the future.

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