Are Smart Thermostats Worth Their Higher Price?

If you’re like most homeowners, you’ve likely seen the many new types of “smart” thermostats available on the market shelves these days. Have you wondered if these thermostats are actually worth it?

The answer to that question will vary based on how you currently use your thermostat. Do you currently have a programmable thermostat that you use? Programmable thermostats are basically the previous generation of smart thermostats, that could be set to turn on and off during certain times of the day and even on a customized weekly schedule.

Some benefits of the new smart thermostats include:

  • Truly “smart” functionality that learns your preferred schedule as you adjust the thermostat, without having to specifically program it.
  • Connectivity with mobile phones, allowing you to control your thermostat from your phone even when you’re not home.
  • Some additional functionality as related to the efficiency of your furnace, such as temperature swing settings.

These features hit upon one of the most significant factors with these smart thermostats— convenience. Think about having a thermostat that you never have to fiddle with, because it automatically knows how you like your temperature on Sunday afternoons. Or, if you have a hectic schedule, think about being able to set your thermostat to kick the heat up a notch whenever it knows you’ve left the office for home. These are obviously very convenient features for those who might actually use them.

Now as to whether these smart thermostats are actually worth it. You might often hear that these thermostats will pay for themselves. Will they?

Ask yourself how efficient you’re already being with your thermostat. Do you turn it down when you leave for work, or basically have it running on the same setting 24/7? Your current use pattern and willingness to take advantage of the benefits of the smart thermostat are what will determine your ultimate potential savings. In one study, a few years old now, the EPA estimated that homes with smart thermostats that actually take advantage of them can save up to $180 a year on heating and cooling. This would certainly be a beneficial proposition for most households.

One other thing to keep in mind is that though these smart thermostats can be quite expensive, their cost can often be offset by rebates offered by the energy companies. For example, the quintessential smart thermostat, Nest, retails for about $250 in electronics stores, but the price comes down to about $150 after accounting for various available rebates.

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