Smart Thermostats – Do I Need One?

In a previous blog post we started talking about the new buzz word: “Smart Thermostats”, and what are they? In this edition, we’ll consider installation options and whether a smart thermostat can actually save you money. First things first... money!

Can a smart thermostat save you money?

Smart thermostats are much more expensive than the simple programmable kind. Prices range anywhere from $250 to as much as $500 depending on the model and features. So whether a smart thermostat will save you money depends on a couple of different factors.

First, you have to consider how long it’ll take for your initial investment to pay for itself. Remember not only is the actual cost of the thermostat expensive, you may have even more expense if you must hire a professional installer.

Second, how long you plan to stay at your house. It’s only worth installing a smart thermostat if you plan to stay in the house for a while. If you’re a renter it can be cost prohibitive unless you plan on taking it with you when you move. The longer you own and use your smart thermostat the more money you will save in the long run.

Third, whether or not you really need all the extra options. If you already have a programmable thermostat chances are you can get all the energy savings available already with just a little programming.

Fourth, analyze your usage patterns. It’s true that you can save up to $180 a year on heating and cooling costs but that’s with either a programmable OR smart thermostat. If you already have a programmable thermostat, buying a smart one won’t save you much more money; although it will show you how to optimize your usage and save a few dollars here and there. But if you are upgrading from a non-programmable thermostat, here a few tips to help you decide which is best for you.

Programmable vs. Smart

If you are a person who consistently turns the thermostat off when leaving the house, you would do just fine with a more affordable programmable thermostat. You will still get the energy savings without the hassle of adjusting it every day.

However, if you tend to forget about the thermostat and leave the A/C or heater running all day, even when no one is home, then a smart thermostat could really save you some money. And the ‘learning’ models we mentioned previously remove all the hassle of managing your home’s temperature … you can forget about it and the thermostat will take care of your home’s climate all by itself – making sure it’s comfortable whenever you’re home.

If you’re a techie or a data freak then let’s just say a Smart Thermostat is definitely for you. It will show you how to tweak your system and save money on your energy bill. You can regularly check your thermostat status and current energy savings via the mobile app and use the web apps to determine additional ways to save money by making little adjustments here and there.

In the end, the biggest advantage of smart over programmable thermostats is that the ‘learning’ models take the hassle out setting up a program. It stops cooling or heating an empty house so you don’t have to remember to re-program it; and it makes sure you’re comfortable when you’re home again. It’s a fine line between comfort and energy efficiency. A smart thermostat does not save you any money that you couldn’t save with a programmable thermostat and a bit more discipline. However, if the thought of manually adjusting or reprograming the thermostat every time you come home unexpectedly or run out for a few errands makes you antsy, then a smart thermostat may be worth the upfront money and savings in the long run.

Installation Options

Okay, so you’ve decided you really need that smart thermostat. Keep in mind that some models are so sophisticated they actually require installation by a professional contractor. However, there are a few that have been designed so the above-average home owner can install them if you’re willing to do so, but even these models are not simply “plug and play,” and will require some working knowledge of electronics. If you decide to install it yourself be sure to read the instructions carefully and check for available tutorials before you being. But if you decide you’d like professional help with selection and installation of your new smart thermostat, give GAMA Air a call at (310) 651-6936, we’d love to help. Or use our online form to schedule a visit.

Want to ask us a question about saving money using your heating and cooling system? Visit our “Ask an Expert” page and let us know what’s on your mind! We’ll get back to you ASAP.

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