We get this question a lot and the short answer is it depends.
That might be disappointing to hear as smart thermostats are frequently touted as a way to maintain your desired comfort level at a cost significantly lower than you're currently paying. That is the case under certain circumstances. In others, savings are minimal. Even then, it might still be worth upgrading.
You might save if…
Do you currently have a manual thermostat? Do you like to set between a crisp, cool 68 and 72 degrees? Are you the forgetful type who frequently leaves the AC on full blast while you’re away at work, needlessly wasting electricity? If you answered yes to all these questions, then the smart thermostat is the money-saving mechanism you need.
As the brain of your HVAC system, a smart thermostat never forgets. That’s because it can be programmed to learn your daily patterns, automatically turning the AC off or adjusting it to a more economic setting while you’re away, say 7 to 10 degrees above your usual set point. This alone can save as much as 10% on annual cooling costs, according to the Department of Energy.
By the time you come back home, it will be just as cool and comfortable as you left it. The thermostat can also adjust the temperature during the hours you sleep, curbing costs further.
Expect minimal savings if...
Are you a miser with the air conditioning? Prefer to keep your home a higher-for-most-people’s-comfort 81 degrees? Do you habitually turn it off every time you step out the door? Are you the type to open the window and turn on the fans at night?
If that sounds like you, don’t expect significantly smaller electric bills.
Still, you might consider upgrading if you like data and wringing ever last bit of efficiency out of your HVAC system.
The cool thing about smart thermostats is that you can monitor your energy usage from your smartphone, tablet or desktop and tweak your settings to achieve even more savings. Monthly reports will help you track your progress.
In terms of sheer convenience, we can wholeheartedly recommend a smart thermostat. Unlike the conventional and not-so-smart-by-comparison programmable thermostat, smart thermostats are easy to program and include a slick software interface. Just maybe curb your expectations of drastically lower AC costs.