Ask the consultants: Are sensible thermostats value it? | Native
You may have heard that programmable (or “smart”) thermostats can deliver significant cost and environmental savings – but are smart thermostats really worth the cost?
Difference Between Manual and Programmable Thermostats: A simple, traditional thermostat basically has one job: to ensure that the actual room temperature matches the setpoint temperature set by the owner. The owner can change the desired temperature – up or down as required – and a basic thermostat keeps the room at this temperature until the set temperature is manually changed again by the owner.
Programmable thermostats were introduced to the market a few decades ago as a cost and energy saving tool for homeowners and facility managers. Home and business owners can set a schedule for programmable thermostats – also known as clock thermostats – that instructs the thermostats to automatically adjust the temperature at different times of the day.
For example, a homeowner might heat less in the middle of a winter night when everyone was sleeping under warm blankets and not noticing a cooler home. A programmable thermostat automates the adjustment and provides energy savings that translate into cost savings on your energy bill.
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Programmable thermostat technology has come a long way since its inception years ago. Mobile computing and computer networking technology greatly improves the management capabilities of programmable thermostats, enabling further savings and more precise settings. The result? Smart thermostats.
Wi-Fi enabled thermostats – also called smart thermostats – are programmable thermostats that connect to an internet-powered device such as your phone or tablet using your home or business’s Wi-Fi connection. Smart thermostats often come with smartphone apps that allow the owner to monitor their HVAC system and adjust temperature settings even when they are away from home or business. This can be huge energy and cost savings if you forget to turn down your thermostat or adjust its schedule before embarking on a weeklong trip.
Smart thermostats offer several functions including:
- Habit Learning: Some smart thermostats learn your activity habits over time by analyzing when you are in the building and observing your comfort preferences, and use that information to make better decisions about when and for how long to turn down your thermostat.
- Diagnostic Features: Some smart thermostats can detect a problem with your HVAC system or thermostat.
- Reminders: Some smart thermostats will remind you
- when it is time to change your air filters or schedule routine maintenance. They can also notify you of high and low temperatures and periods of high or low humidity.
- Geofencing technology: Some modern thermostats use geofencing technology when paired with your smartphone. Essentially, these thermostats know when you’re around – after work, for example – and adjust temperature settings accordingly so your home is at the right temperature when you drive into the garage.
- Voice commands: Other smart thermostats respond to voice commands, making it easier than ever for the owner to adjust settings on the fly.
- Reporting: Many smart thermostats generate reports that record energy and cost savings over time so you can make better decisions about your energy settings and the temperature of your home.
What factors should you consider when choosing a thermostat?
Building occupancy: Is your building empty all day for a long period of time? If so, then you probably want to consider a programmable thermostat. If everyone is regularly out for work and school, Monday through Friday, from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., and you set your air conditioning to 80 degrees instead of 70 degrees during that time, you have the chance to make some remarkable savings. On the other hand, if someone is in the building all or most of the time, you will likely want a more stable room temperature.
- Comfort vs. Saving: Are you ready to forego a certain amount of comfort in order to save? If so, consider a programmable thermostat to automatically reduce the load on your HVAC system during those hours of the day when you want to forego comfort. Winter nights are a good example – you could program your thermostat to drop the room temperature from 70 to 64 degrees overnight and then back to 70 degrees in the morning. Most people won’t notice the temperature difference while they sleep, and you can potentially save up to 10% per year on energy bills by turning your thermostat a few degrees eight hours a day.
Are you really saving money with programmable and smart thermostats?
Speaking of savings – which savings are exactly possible? It’s a tough question because there are so many variables. The answer will depend on your fuel type, the insulation of your building, your specific geographic location, and more. One manufacturer reports that homeowners can save an average of 20% on their heating and cooling bills over time, depending on the type of programmable thermostat chosen and the heating and cooling devices used with it.
Smart thermostats save money by only cooling and heating your home when you need it, reducing energy waste. Additional features like service reminders and diagnostic tools help you save more in the long run by keeping your HVAC system in good working order.
However, there are situations when a smart or programmable thermostat may not save you money. When using a smart thermostat, consistency is important. If you use the thermostat setbacks to keep the temperature lower in your absence, but increase it excessively later in the evening, you will use more energy. Also, if you keep overwriting your temperature settings, you will reduce the power saving capability of your thermostat.
Understanding and consistency are keys to being successful with a programmable thermostat. When used correctly, a programmable thermostat can actually result in significant savings in your energy bills. If you’re not sure where to start, call a professional for help!
This article is for reference only. The information presented here is of a general nature and may not apply in all situations. Tips, articles and accompanying information do not constitute an official recommendation by the Tuckey Companies in any particular circumstance.
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