It happens every year in the North: colder temperatures drive up utility bills. It is just the opposite in the South. Hotter summer temperatures increase utility bills by forcing the air-conditioning to work harder. Regardless of where you live, those higher utility bills can have you thinking about creative ways to save energy. What about your thermostat?
Something as simple as a thermostat upgrade can make an enormous difference. Remember that the thermostat represents the primary way you control how much money you spend on heating and air-conditioning. Adjusting the thermostat by just a few degrees in either direction can really make a difference.
What Type of Thermostat do you have?
The need for a thermostat upgrade might be influenced by the type of thermostat you currently have. There are basically three types of thermostats, all of which are explained in a very informative post from Vivint Smart Home. Vivint sells and installs smart home and home security equipment nationwide.
The three types of thermostats they describe in their post are:
- Manual – The manual thermostat is the one most of us are intimately familiar with. Whether analog or digital, you manually adjust the temperature as you see fit. Whatever temperature you set remains constant until you make your next adjustment.
- Programmable – A programmable thermostat is equipped with built-in software that lets you program temperature changes. Most models allow you to program multiple changes for every day of the week. Once programmed, the thermostat controls temperature automatically.
- Smart – A smart thermostat is a programmable thermostat with additional features. It can be accessed remotely, programming can be overridden, and it can self-adjust by artificially learning a homeowner’s routine.
Upgrading from a manual thermostat to a programmable one can save energy. Unfortunately, some programmable thermostats are so complicated that homeowners have difficulty programming them. At that point, they become little more than more expensive manual thermostats.
Are You Comfortable Using Your Smartphone?
Smart thermostats have a lot of advantages. Among them is the ease of use. Though there are exceptions to the rule, most smart thermostats are designed around the same user interface (UI) model common to smartphones. So if you are comfortable using your smartphone to access the internet, check your email, post to social media, etc., you should find a smart thermostat pretty intuitive.
A smart thermostat saves energy through programming. You program it to control the temperature in your home based on your schedule. During the winter, you are not heating your home while at work or when sleeping. Same thing for the air-conditioning during the summer.
As an added bonus, the best smart thermostats can actually learn your routine by integrating with other smart home devices. How does this help? By automatically adjusting current programming to be more in line with when you are really home and what you do while there.
Are you Interested in Home Automation in General?
Smart thermostats are just one component of a much larger home automation space. So if you are interested in home automation in general, a good way to dip your toe in the smart home pool is to invest in a smart thermostat. Make it that entry-level device to introduce yourself to the home automation world.
If you are still using a manual thermostat, is its inefficient nature causing you to waste energy? If so, it is probably time for a thermostat upgrade. Go with either a programmable or smart model. The automation offered by both types of thermostats could represent significant energy savings for you. And with energy prices continuing to go up, every little bit helps.