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What are thermostats?

Ask yourself, do you really know what your thermostat does for your home and for your energy use? Other than adjusting settings from time-to-time. Behind that interface, there is a range of things happening that directly impact your energy bill each month. Thermostats are an amazing technology to help you in your home.

Programmable thermostats help conserve energy during times you’re not home when you leave for work or go on vacation. As many of us forget to pre-program the thermostat each day as part of our morning routine, the smart part of smart thermostats is that they do the programming for you – automatically – by learning your behaviours and allowing you to take control remotely via your smartphone. They help to take out the extra, often forgotten, conservation steps that can save you hundreds of dollars each year.

Some manufacturers, like Nest, claim that for a 2,000 – 3,000 square foot home in Boulder, CO with central AC and electric heat, installing a smart thermostat could save you anywhere from $176 – $723 a year. Factors that go into this estimate include where you live, your home size, heating type and what kind of A/C system you have.

ENERGY STAR® claims, “with the proper use of a programmable thermostat (using four pre-programmed settings) you can save about $180 every year in energy costs.” This assumes a typical, single-family home with a 10-hour daytime setback of 8 degrees F in winter and setup of 7 degrees F in summer, and an 8-hour nighttime setback of 8 degrees F in winter and a setup of 4 degrees F in summer.

While smart thermostats may not be the right fit for every home, they certainly are a step in the right direction for most homes. There are some really cool thermostats on the market to consider when updating your home to be more efficient. Keep in mind, however, when shopping, no thermostat — smart or not — can cover up the inefficiencies of a poorly insulated home.