Homeowners hoping to save on energy costs this winter might benefit from buying a smart thermostat to help cut down on their heating usage.

Smart thermostats monitor your home activity, then program themselves to accommodate your heating habits while shaving down bills at the same time. They go a step beyond programmable thermostats, which allow you to adjust the temperature at predetermined times, by dynamically reacting to changes in your habits and recognizing when you’re not at home.

Smart thermostats have been around for a few years, but the country really started to pay attention last winter when Google purchased Nest Labs for a stunning $3.2 billion. Nest is the most prominent manufacturer of smart thermostats, but other brands like Ecobee and Honeywell have products on the market as well.

They cost a bit more — the standard Nest model is $249 — but the promise of smart thermostats is that they can end up saving you money in the long run by automatically making adjustments to cut down your heating bills.

How They Work

Smart thermostats have a number of features to help wring every last bit of savings from your heating system while still maintaining a temperature that you are comfortable with. Among them:

  • It learns your habits. When you make manual adjustments to your thermostat, such as turning it down a few degrees at night, it remembers and then replicates your changes on its own.
  • It saves you money when you’re not at home. The thermostat can tell when the house is empty and turns down the temperature so you don’t waste energy unnecessarily.
  • It lets you track your data. The thermostat will keep a log of your energy history so you can inspect it and look for places to make changes and save even more money.
  • It even monitors the weather reports and adjusts accordingly.

The whole interface can be controlled from your phone, so you can crank up the heat before arriving home from work, or fine-tune the settings to drop it a degree or two at your discretion.

Is it Worth the Cost?

The initial cost may be daunting to some, but unless you’re someone who religiously monitors and adjusts the temperature already the device could pay for itself in energy savings in just a year or two. The product is also great for people who like access to lots of data to help them make informed decisions about how to live an ever-more efficient lifestyle.

If you are still using an old-school manual thermostat and can’t afford a smart version, programmable thermostats are still a great option that can save hundreds of dollars per year, albeit without some of the more dynamic features of their smart cousins.

One Hour Heating & Air Conditioning® of Midland Park technician can tell you more about smart and programmable thermostats, explain the various options and help you decide if one is right for you.