7: Install a smart thermostat
By Diane Veto Parham | Illustrations by David Clark
Cost: Products range from about $170 to $250.
Benefit: Manufacturers estimate annual savings of 9 to 23 percent on heating and cooling costs.
DIY potential: Video and written instructions can guide you through installation and Wi-Fi set-up.
Early versions of programmable thermostats were hailed as tools that would help homeowners save energy and money and increase home comfort, all by tailoring thermostat settings to daytime, nighttime, weekend and vacation schedules. And they did — but only for those who bothered to manually program them.
Enter the newer smart thermostats (sometimes called Wi-Fi thermostats). They connect to the internet, can be controlled from an app on a mobile device, and, best of all, are designed to learn your home’s habits, so they can handle the programming with little hands-on labor by you.
Still evolving, some newer models include sensors to detect when people are in the house, so they can reduce energy use when no one is home. Some offer multiple sensors to place around the house, so the app can tailor temperatures to different rooms. Some even feature Amazon’s Alexa voice-activated virtual assistant, which can control an array of smart-home devices in addition to the thermostat.
Thanks to the internet connection and remote-control options, smart thermostats are ideal for use in electric cooperative load-control programs. Across the country and here in North Carolina, electric co-ops are testing new programs that use this technology to help members save energy and help co-ops reduce demand.