Smart thermostats

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smart thermostats

Oct. 5 is Energy Efficiency Day. Taking a few simple steps, or making a single purchase, can save money on your energy costs by reducing usage. The following gives you the lowdown on smart thermostats, one of many energy technology products available to homeowners.

Sales of smart thermostats are soaring as consumers look to leverage the latest technology to maximize energy savings.

What sets these devices apart from their predecessors?

Regular thermostats allow you to adjust the temperature in your home. They amount to a control panel for heating and air conditioning systems.

Programmable thermostats go a step further – allowing you to set the temperature and have it change at certain times during the day.

Smart thermostats are capable of learning from your behavior and patterns. They can tell you how much energy you’re using at any given time. And they can even adjust themselves based on humidity or other factors.

In addition, many models allow you to control the climate in your home remotely, even via mobile apps.

“If you set the temperature higher while at work, but want it nice and cool when you walk back in the door later, these devices can determine how long it will take to get to the desired temperature to make a properly timed adjustment,” said OPPD Product Marketing Specialist Sam Hardy.

Smart thermostats also bring an added benefit for those whose homes don’t heat evenly, or who prefer some rooms to be cooler than others. Sensors installed in each room are able to track individual temperatures in order to heat and cool appropriately.

Are the energy savings worth the investment?

Several manufacturers make smart thermostats. They generally cost somewhere between $200 and $500, and that’s before an install cost for those who are not do-it-yourselfers.

The Environmental Protection Agency’s Energy Star program estimates that homes with programmable or smart thermostats can save up to $180 on annual heating and cooling costs.

“Smart thermostats may help you fine tune your energy usage, but you are unlikely to save too much more than you would with a properly set programmable thermostat,” Hardy said.

These devices are much less expensive – starting around $20 and going up in price from there.

But, Hardy added, maximizing your energy-saving settings can be trickier than with the smart thermostats on the market, which are more intuitive. The Department of Energy offers some helpful guidelines.

Bottom line

If your goal is simply to curtail your energy use during certain times of the day, a simple programmable thermostat should do the trick.

However, if you are tech savvy, enjoy having even more control and are willing to pay for the added comfort and convenience, a smart thermostat may be for you.

Of course, your temperature setting is just one component to saving energy. See OPPD’s energy saving tools, seasonal energy tips and roadmap to energy savings to learn more.

Jodi Baker

About Jodi Baker

Jodi Baker writes stories and shoots videos for The Wire. Jodi was a television news reporter before she came to work for OPPD as a media specialist in 2013. She's married with two children (a boy and a girl) and an allergy-ridden little Cairn Terrier.

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