Heating and cooling costs account for around half of a user’s energy bill according to the U.S. Department of Energy. So when it comes to reducing energy use and cutting home energy costs, the most impact can be made by programming the thermostat. The right thermostat settings could yield energy savings of 8-15%, and new technology is making it easier than ever to achieve those settings.
Smart thermostats are Wi-Fi enabled and may be controlled remotely through a tablet, smartphone or voice control. Some models use multiple sensors to monitor temperatures in various parts of the home for more balanced heating or cooling, track user temperature preferences and use the data to optimize your heating and cooling schedule, and some are designed for complex multi-stage systems that will control heating, cooling, dehumidifier and ventilation systems.
If you’re interested in controlling your thermostat with your voice or an app, or in being hands-off and letting it learn your habits, you should consider a smart thermostat. To narrow your choices, factor in smart features, price and attributes that matter most to you, such as color, size or style, and make sure the chosen product supports your HVAC system.
The Nest 3rd Generation Learning Thermostat and Ecobee4 are the most popular and sophisticated devices in this category. Both devices are usually priced around $250, but consumers can easily recoup their money in energy cost savings.
There are many similarities between the two thermostats:
- Can be adjusted via computer, tablet, smartphone, Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa device
- Can interact with other smart devices and utilize geofencing—using your phone’s GPS to determine if you’re home, then automatically adjusting the temperature.
- Offer for-purchase, remote sensors that allow the thermostat to take readings from any room throughout your home and adjust the temperature accordingly.
While many of the features are similar, there a few that are notably different and can help you determine which is right for you:
- Powered by a rechargeable battery
- Is a learning thermostat and automatically learns your schedule
- Continually learns and responds to your adjustments
- Records 10 days of energy use data that shows you a visual of the times your system turned on and off during those 10 days
- Sends a monthly email report that includes a summary of your energy use compared to previous months and other Nest users
- Must be hardwire installed
- Utilizes a touchscreen
- Can analyze HVAC data for 18 months
- All temperature and motion data from the thermostat and sensors is recorded, and can be accessed online by the owner to help you monitor total energy use, how the weather influences your use, and how your home efficiency compares to other users in your area
For those looking for a smart thermostat with fewer bells and whistles, the Honeywell Lyric T5+ is one of the market’s most popular, priced around $135. While it can’t sense your presence or learn your schedule, it does have the geofencing feature and can interact with other smart-home devices, such as turning on lights when you arrive or leave home.
Whichever fits your lifestyle and preferences, a smart thermostat is a good investment that can help you save energy and money in a more convenient way than ever.
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