All the Facts:
The biggest portion of most US energy bills is dedicated to keeping us from needing a sweater or breaking a sweat. There’s a quick and easy way to address a healthy chuck of this usage by making a small change, a change that also makes your life more comfortable and more convenient.
Enter the smart thermostat.
The smart thermostat is a monumental leap in technology over the programmable thermostat. Imagine you are in the 1980’s hectically punching in a series of commands into your VCR to record a TV program (millennials can ask their parents what that was like). That is the programmable thermostat. Now, instead of a VCR, picture a small digital box that reads your mind – mind reading being a step up from current streaming devices – and just plays whatever TV show you want to see whenever you turn on the TV. That is the smart thermostat.
According Navigant Research, third party studies of the Nest smart thermostat revealed that electricity use decreased “between 13.9% and 15% for cooling and 10% and 12% for heating loads. For natural gas, the Vectren study confirmed an average annual reduction of 12.5%.” In some parts of the United States that energy savings will pay for the cost of the thermostat in under 2 years.
If you are curious what the average home energy usage is in your area for heating and cooling, check out the EIAs research on a state by state basis. Even though all states are not listed, it gives a good overview: California in the west, New York in the northeast, Texas and Florida in the south, and Illinois in the Midwest. The U.S. average energy usage for heating and cooling combined is 54%.
While the cost benefits of smart thermostats are significant, the other benefits are perhaps even more reason to pick up one of these devices. The smart thermostat achieves these results by constantly making adjustments to the temperature for you, both big and small. It learns these behaviors straight from the homeowner. When you turn the temperature up, that is a data point. The same when you turn the temperature down. Over the first couple weeks the new device learns its owner’s preferences. After that it makes the adjustments on its own and continues to refine its understanding.
But wait there’s more. How many times do you remember to turn the thermostat down before bed in the winter? No need to worry. The Nest or Ecobee will do that for you, even if you go to sleep at different times on different days. The same thing happens when you wake up. The temperature has been adjusted to your preferences just minutes before you normally get out of bed on each particular day of the week. Heading out for a long weekend? The device will realize there’s no one around and decrease the heating or cooling significantly. Just one less thing to remember before taking a trip
Really a smart thermostat is not very different from a dumb thermostat … if you could clone yourself … and your clone was always manning the temperature dial … and if it attended to its responsibilities with the pinpoint accuracy of a computer algorithm. I guess I’m saying smart thermostats are even more impressive than cloning, because let’s face it, that copy of you is never going to be as sharp as the original.