Smart Thermostats – Do They Really Save You Money?

smart thermostat

What’s so smart about a smart thermostat anyway? For starters, it’s more than just a control panel that allows you to adjust the heating and air conditioning in your home. Smart thermostats take the guesswork out of the equation, and remove the manual process of changing the temperature throughout the day.

But they’re also more than just a programmable piece of technology – and here’s where they really prove their smarts. Smart thermostats can actually learn from your habits, allow you control your home’s temperature remotely, provide you with statistics on your energy consumption, and make self-adjustments according to environmental factors.

Smart Thermostats in Daily Life

What makes this device such a boon for the everyday individual? Smart thermostats can power down the work your system does while you’re not there, and then bring it back up to ideal temperatures right before you return home for the day. This allows you to experience ideal comfort, without hours of unnecessary energy expenditure.

Smart thermostats with web or phone apps offer you the ability to manage your temperature control system, with the touch of a button – from anywhere, at any time. This can help you see how and when you’re spending money, and how to most efficiently manage your home while you’re away. Coming home from the office early, on a cold winter day? Use your app to turn up the heat before you start the drive home – by the time you arrive, you’ll be welcomed by a warm, cozy living room.

Smart Data

Smart thermostats can tell you just how long it takes to make temperature adjustments in your home. The more information you have, the better you can manage consistent comfort in your home, instead of scrambling to crank the air conditioning only after you realize everyone’s sweating. This data also offers you unique insight into the efficiency of your climate control system – you can take a closer look at your insulation, windows, drafts, and other environmental influencers that might be costing you money. Accurate, timely data can keep you from making frequent changes to your home temperature that don’t pay off in the long run.

Types of Smart Thermostats

There are many of these devices emerging, offering remote management, and the ability to learn from your behaviors and adjust automatically. Here are a few prime examples of leaders in the smart thermostat space, and the features today’s thermostats offer:

Nest Thermostat

Nest Thermostat is one of the pioneers in smart thermostat technology. The Nest Thermostat provides remote management, and also learns from your behavior. It senses when you are home, and adjusts to the humidity in the room, or other changes to the environment – such as an open door, or heated oven. The allure of the Nest thermostat is that it takes no programming. It auto-schedules for you, and lets you know when you’re saving more energy. Because it can detect when you’re home or away, there’s no reprogramming necessary when your work schedule suddenly changes. It’s a trailblazer to be sure, but it’s not alone. The Nest Thermostat retails for a little over $200.


The Ecobee3 provides temperature control perfect for that large home with numerous different areas—and many different temperature needs. With remote sensors throughout the home, it can detect unique conditions, movement, and temperature. Ecobee’s special power is its ability to heat rooms that are far away from the home’s central hub.

Honeywell Lyric

Honeywell is well-known in the heating, cooling, and air conditioning realm. And it has also stepped up to bat on the smart thermostat playing field, with the Honeywell Lyric. The company has paired with Apple to offer the best in smart thermostats – including humidity monitoring, easily selected presets, and Android and iOS apps that allow you to monitor your home’s climate remotely.

What About the Savings?

And, finally, the big question: will a smart thermostat save you money? The answer depends on a few key factors: how long you plan to use it, whether or not you use it to its greatest potential, and how you choose to install it. Here’s how to get the most savings out of a smart thermostat:

Install It Yourself

Professional installation can cost you up to $200 in labor. Alternatively, you can install a smart thermostat yourself, to save cash and lower the initial cost of the purchase. Many of these models can be self-installed in little time; but they require close adherence to the instructions, and careful installation.

Stay Put, or Take It with You

If you plan on selling your home anytime soon, the initial investment of a smart thermostat might not have time to pay itself off before you move – if you intend to leave it behind. Although a few hundred dollars is not a lot to commit to, it can be quite the investment if you’re a renter, or short-term homeowner, who doesn’t plan to uninstall and reinstall a smart thermostat when moving from one place to another.

Make Sure It’s Necessary

If you constantly leave doors open, turn the heat above 80 degrees in the winter, or simply don’t often change your patterns; then a smart thermostat may not be for you. Those who live with predictable patterns, or in areas where humidity is relatively constant, can often “set it and forget it” – rendering a smart thermostat much less useful. Consider the following questions when deciding whether to go for a smart device:

      • Do you have a varying schedule?
      • Frequently forget to turn your thermostat down?
      • Generally keep your home at a constant temperature, even while you’re away?
      • Find it frustrating to manage your manual thermostat?
      • Love to use data to tweak your savings?
      • Live in a home with isolated rooms that could use individual temperature monitoring?

If you answer yes to any of the above questions, a smart thermostat will pay for itself many times over.

With these devices, the real savings come when you take advantage of all the features they offer. Smart thermostats give you the power to manage your energy efficiency on-the-go, offer you valuable data about your energy usage, keep you consistently comfortable, and save you time and hassle in managing your climate control. In short, getting a smart thermostat is a smart idea.

Kevin Burns

Kevin Burns is the President of Bob Jenson Air Conditioning in San Diego with over 29 years of experience in the HVAC Field. He has worked in every aspect of the industry and has trained dozens of people. He has a passion for doing what’s right for each home and customer and sets this standard for his entire team.


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