“Will a Smart Thermostat Save Money?” Tina in Roseville, CA Asks an HVAC Expert

will a smart thermostat save moneyTina from Roseville has made a few too many trips to the Roseville Galleria this holiday season, and now she’s looking to save some money on her heating and cooling bills. Tina asks:

“So, I really put the old saying of ‘it’s better to give than to receive’ to the test this Christmas, buying great gifts for everyone on my list—and then some. I probably spent a little too much money… Anyway, my point is that I’m now looking to start saving. I’ve already tackled some areas of my budget, but what I’m really interested in is cutting down on the cost of my monthly heating and cooling bill. I’ve heard a lot about smart thermostats, and what I want to know is will a smart thermostat save money on my bills? If so, roughly how much? Thanks! Sincerely, Thrifty Tina”

Well, Thrifty Tina in Roseville, since you’ve already done so much for your friends and family this year, I have a gift for you: an answer to your excellent question about smart thermostats. I think your instinct is correct; your heating and cooling bill is a great place to start when it comes to saving some extra money each month. I’ve talked in the past about tips for saving on energy bills and a smart thermostat is definitely one way to do that. So, yes, a smart thermostat will most definitely save you money. That much is guaranteed. But, there’s more to it than that.

It’s important for homeowners to know exactly how smart thermostats save money, how much installing one will cost, and why it’s an all-around good idea for most homes. So, let’s explore just why, how, and how much installing a smart thermostat can save you.

How Will a Smart Thermostat Save Money?

how does a smart thermostat save money?For homeowners like Thrifty Tina to answer the question, “Will a smart thermostat save money?” she first needs to know what a smart thermostat is and how it functions. The way a smart thermostat works is pretty simple: The IoT (or Internet of Things) seems to be taking over home management, connecting everything from water purification systems to remote monitoring of HVAC units. Smart thermostats, though, are still relatively new tech, invented within the past decade or so. I think that Thrifty Tina is a good barometer of where most people are: they’ve heard of smart thermostats but don’t really know much about them, and they certainly don’t know if smart thermostats are worth it.

A smart thermostat performs many of the same functions as a standard thermostat, but it’s connected to the internet as well so users can adjust its settings from other devices, like smartphones, tablets, or even watches.

Here’s a simple way to think about smart thermostats. Remember the old phone you had growing up? Compare that to the smartphone you have now, the one that does just about everything for you at the touch of a finger. Smart thermostats versus regular thermostats are a similar comparison. A smart thermostat performs many of the same functions as a standard thermostat, but it’s connected to the internet as well so users can adjust its settings from other devices, like smartphones, tablets, or even watches. Smart thermostats have some more advanced features as well, like collecting data and analytics on when and how long your HVAC system runs.

The Financial Benefits of Smart Thermostats That Help You Save

To really understand how a smart thermostat will save you money, you have to know about the benefits they offer. The major ones are that they give you precise control over your HVAC system and they allow for automation of your thermostat’s functions.

What, however, does that mean for your utility bill? Well, it makes turning off and on your heating and cool units much easier, which allows you to limit their use to the times you really, truly need them. Here’s how:

  • Programmable to alert via email notifications: You can program a smart thermostat to send you an email notification if your house gets too warm or too cold so you can decide whether or not to raise or lower your thermostat from anywhere. You can also use this feature to ensure that your home is already comfortable when you arrive, without wasting energy while you’re out and about at the Sunrise Farmers Market in Citrus Heights or joining Tina at the Galleria.
  • Removes the human element: You know how cruise control in your car can save you money on gas because it stops you from sudden, unnecessary accelerations that burn fuel? Well, your AC and furnace are susceptible to the same thing. A smart thermostat, though, learns your schedule and preferences, then drops or raises the temperature in your home as needed.
  • Analyzes energy use: One of the easiest ways for Tina, or any homeowner, to lower their energy bill—as well as carbon footprint—is by monitoring it in real time. Raised awareness can show you exactly what you need to do to keep your HVAC from wasting energy and raising your costs.
  • Alerts to needed maintenance: I’ve talked about the ten signs your AC may need repair, as well as the importance of an annual AC maintenance check, but I know that for many homeowners life is hectic, and the health of your HVAC system is not always your top priority. With a smart thermostat, though, you can get notifications telling you when it’s time to call your friendly HVAC specialist to come out and service your system. This saves money in the long term because regular maintenance is a sure fire way to avoid costly repairs or having to replace your system earlier than should be necessary.

So, Will a Smart Thermostat Save Money?

In the long run, smart thermostats are definitely a great way to save money, especially now that installation costs for this tech have started to go down. These days, you can get a cutting-edge smart thermostat for around $250. In my expert opinion, most smart thermostats will reduce heating and cooling bills so much that Tina, and anyone else who invests in one, would make this money back within the first year or two, tops, making this a worthwhile investment, to be sure.

…most smart thermostats will reduce heating and cooling bills so much that anyone else who invests in one would make this money back within the first year or two…

My other major piece of advice here is to bring in a professional tech. A smart thermostat is a difficult piece of equipment to install yourself. It has electrical components, which always presents a risk for even the most ambitious DIY folks.

We all get carried away in our budgets sometimes. I know I have more than once, and Tina’s impulse to shave a few dollars off her utility bill is a good one. A smart thermostat is one great way to do that. You do, however, have to make the investment for the tech up front—and you must make sure you work with an experienced HVAC pro to get it installed correctly. Once you get used to your new smart thermostat, and the money it saves you, though, you’ll probably wonder how you ever went without one in the first place—kind of like that smartphone glued to your palm.

Contact the HVAC professionals at Bell Brothers to get an estimate on a smart thermostat. And, while we’re visiting your home, let us give you a whole house assessment for energy efficiency. We’ll offer recommendations and upgrades that are sure to increase your year-round comfort—and decrease your power bills.

Wondering how to finance a new HVAC system, windows, or plumbing? HERO is a unique financing option that helps California homeowners afford energy efficient upgrades to their home. Contact Bell Brothers, a HERO-approved contractor, to learn more. Our local HVAC, plumbing, and window specialists will walk you through the entire process, from applications to installation.

Image courtesy Pixabay user tookapic