Can smart thermostats really save you thousands of dollars?

High-tech thermostats like Nest and Honeywell are everywhere.

Credit: Reviewed / Monica Beyer
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Smart thermostats are an incredible way to not only integrate your home's comfort levels into your smart home ecosystem, but—even better—they can also help save you money.

While you can manually set any old thermostat higher in the summer and lower in the winter (and can even have a programmable thermostat do it automatically for you), a smart thermostat goes a step further and takes the guesswork out of when and how to adjust your home’s temperature for maximum energy savings.

How exactly, though, does a smart thermostat save you money? Let's take a look at the cost-saving benefits, especially for those of us who don't usually mess with thermostat settings, even if we already have a programmable thermostat.

How a smart thermostat works

Emerson Sensi
Credit: Emerson

The Emerson Sensi Touch Smart Thermostat got the highest rating when we tested smart thermostats.

Thermostats have been around since a Scottish chemist patented the device in the 1830s. It underwent many changes in those early decades until dial thermostats, which are still in use today, were developed in the 1950s.

Thermostats are wired into your home's electric system to pair with central heating or cooling, helping maintain a comfortable temperature inside your house. Programmable thermostats are an even newer technology, but studies show that most people don't actually program their programmable thermostat, which defeats the purpose of having one with that feature in the first place.

Smart thermostats make programming more intuitive. They're connected to the internet via WiFi, which allows you to control it with a smartphone app or another web interface. These apps allow you to create a heating or cooling schedule so you can set the temp higher when everyone is away at school or work during the summer, and back down to a comfortable level before everyone starts coming home. This makes it easy to set up the thermostat, program it, and forget about it.

How does a smart thermostat save money, though?

Saving money
Credit: Canva

Smart thermostats save money because they do all the work for you.

A smart thermostat isn't some magical, energy-deflecting device. It doesn't save money by stealthily whittling down your energy needs. The truth is, it actually comes down to simple math. The less energy you use cooling or heating your home, the less it costs.

Since it seems that many people don't bother customizing their programmable thermostat (or manually turning the dial on their traditional thermostat) it's easy to see how a smart, easily-scheduled thermostat makes adjusting your indoor temperature simple and effortless.

Smart thermostats can integrate with motion sensors, security cameras, and mobile devices to know when you’re home or away. They can pre-heat or -cool your home so that it’s always the right temperature at the right time. They can adjust the temperature to make only certain rooms comfortable (great for drafty or poorly insulated homes). They can kick on the fan when the air quality is poor.

Smart thermostats can integrate with motion sensors, security cameras, and mobile devices to know when you’re home or away.

A smart thermostat, which does the work of observing your habits and adjusting the temp for you, is a fantastic way to save some dough.

Even those who do micromanage their traditional or programmable thermostat will probably find some cost savings, as you can control a smart thermostat remotely and adjust as needed. Also, some models even adjust automatically on their own, based on outside temperature, humidity, or your past thermostat adjustments. Features and smart home integrations vary by model, of course, but even the most basic smart thermostats allow for scheduling, remote access, and connectivity with smart assistants like Alexa and Google Assistant.

Let the savings roll in

If you're looking to save some cash, you'll likely find a smart thermostat is an excellent purchase that will not only allow you to completely customize your home's interior temperature, but will help conserve some of your funds. The Nest Learning Thermostat is one that even tracks your energy savings over time, so you can know for sure you made a good investment.

Related

Nest vs. Ecobee: Which is the best smart thermostat?
Our editors review and recommend products to help you buy the stuff you need. If you make a purchase by clicking one of our links, we may earn a small share of the revenue. Our picks and opinions are independent from any business incentives.

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Our editors review and recommend products to help you buy the stuff you need. If you make a purchase by clicking one of our links, we may earn a small share of the revenue. Our picks and opinions are independent from any business incentives.
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