Smart products are slowly, but very steadily, making their way into the homes of North Americans. Most products heavily promote features that will make living your daily life more convenient, more secure or cheaper and ideally a combination of all three. It’s easy to see the convenience of smart homes, but how does this smart home technology save you money though? We’ll take a closer look at smart thermostats, how much money they can save you and how exactly they achieve those savings.
A Smart Thermostat?
First things first, let’s define what a smart thermostat is and does. Most of us are familiar with those old non-programmable thermostats many of us still use for controlling our home heating. One step up you find programmable thermostats that can be set to specific schedules so they will start heating your room(s) at the right times and lower temperatures when you are away or asleep. According to a study published in the Journal of Energy Research & Social Science, 42% of homes have a programmable thermostat, and 40% of those are not programmed. This mirrors our experience doing energy audits; most homeowners found programmable thermostats clunky and hard to use.
Smart thermostats connect to the internet – typically, they have a wifi chip, but some use communication with a separate hub using the Zigbee/Z-wave protocol. This functionality enables you to control the thermostat through web interfaces or smartphone apps, which is a lot easier than programming on a thermostat! Since the launch of the Nest Thermostat in 2011, it became clear that thermostats could do more than just set schedules. They can incorporate learning algorithms to help you set the most efficient schedules. Finally, smart thermostats are really taking advantage of the advent of smart assistants such as Google Home, Amazon Alexa, and Apple HomeKit so that you can control your thermostats and heating schedules just by using your voice.