When there is a new “smart” product or “igadget” out every other day, the important question to always be asking is: How will this new technology benefit me? When heating and cooling account for about half of the energy costs in your home, the benefits of an upgraded thermostat are clear.
Traditional thermostats require you to manually adjust the temperature; otherwise, it stays steady. Adjusting your thermostat is one the easiest ways to conserve energy and save money. The US Department of Energy estimates that you can save up to 10% a year on your home heating and cooling costs simply by turning your thermostat down 7 to 10 degrees for 8 hours a day. Two forms of upgraded thermostats, described below, make temperature adjustments easy as can be.
A programmable thermostat allows you to set the temperature of your home in advance to align with your schedule. For example, you can adjust the temperature several times a day based on when you are home, away, or asleep. Typically, you can vary your schedule weekday versus weekend. A programmable thermostat will stick to its set schedule unless you manually override the schedule for unique changes, like if you are going out of town and want to turn the heat down, or are home during the workday and need the AC running.
Smart thermostats connect to wifi and automatically adjust the temperature. This makes it even easier to save money while keeping your home comfortable. Another “smart” feature is that these thermostats are able to learn your behaviors. Once the thermostat can anticipate your schedule, it will begin to automatically ramp down heating or cooling in your home as you are leaving and ramp it back up again when you are returning. Smart thermostats typically do this with an option to connect to your smartphone, so it can tell how close you (i.e. your phone) are to home.
Smart thermostats also have extra features above what other thermostats can offer. For example, if you are going to be home earlier than usual, you can adjust your thermostat via your smartphone to be ready when you get back. Further, many of these thermostats provide monthly energy reports so you can track how much you spend on heating or cooling each month. This allows you to further tailor your behaviors to be as energy efficient as possible.
Price and Programs
While programmable and smart thermostats do cost more than a traditional type, the energy savings you realize could make the purchase worth it. Further, many utilities offer rebates to help with the cost. Check out CUB’s Saving Money page to check for rebates and discounts offered by your utility.
If you are an Xcel Energy customer and are considering a smart thermostat, check out the AC Rewards Smart Thermostat Program. When participating in this program, Xcel is able to make adjustments to your thermostat during hot summer days to help manage energy demand. In return, Xcel offers a few different options to help you buy and install a smart thermostat. You will also earn $25 every year you participate further increasing your savings. (Note that you can only participate in this program or the AC Savers Switch, not both, so you should consider which will be a better deal for you.)