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Smart Thermostats Go Beyond Traditional Programmable Thermostats

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If you are tired of constantly monitoring your thermostat to keep your family comfortable while keeping a handle on energy consumption, the smart thermostat may be for you. Just as its name implies, this little gizmo learns on its own and automatically adjusts to your schedule. For the energy conscious who don't want to bother with the fuss of tweaking the dial throughout the day and night, this smart product simplifies life and may save money on your energy bill, too.

What is a Smart Thermostat?

A smart thermostat is a step up from a programmable thermostat. While a programmable thermostat works on a timer that allows you to set a different temperature for when you are away or sleeping, it requires manually setting. The smart thermostat allows you to adjust those settings remotely while at work or when you realize you'll be away longer than expected. It also lets you monitor energy consumption and shows you ways to save energy. The smart thermostat can be set to adjust itself according to ambient conditions in the home, such as humidity level. 

How Does it Work?

This innovative thermostat requires some training, but it learns from your routine schedule - such as when you turn the heat back as you head off to work and when you turn it back up when return home for the night, and learns to adjust the temperature in your home automatically.

If you request a change in temperature, such as heating up the home before you arrive home, the smart thermostat shows you exactly how long it will take for the change to take place. This means you can avoid wasting energy by programming it to start too early or a chilly welcome because you set it begin too late.

In addition, the thermostat allows you to monitor your energy usage at all times, which means you can easily tweak the settings by a few degrees and see the results in real time. This means you can adjust the settings to the most energy-efficient settings while still enjoying a comfortable home.

Many smart thermostats also include data on outside weather and temperature and the relative humidity inside and outside the home. Many contain a touchscreen for easy control from home, and can be controlled remotely by tablets, PCs and phones.

How Much Do They Cost?

Smart thermostats range in price from $150 to $500, says Alliance to Save Energy. This cost, of course, does not include installation. While some models are fairly straight-forward and can be installed by the average DIYer, some models require professional installation by your heating professional. Your initial financial investment may be recovered in a year or two through energy savings. 

Will I Really Save Money?

How much money you save on a smart thermostat depends on multiple variables, such as the temperature you choose to set your thermostat at. Natural Resources Canada recommends a temperature 17°C (63°F) when you are sleeping or away from home and 20°C (68°F) during the daytime when the home is occupied. It further says that lowering the thermostat one degree C saves two percent on your heating bill.

Your energy savings with a smart thermostat depend on the temperature settings, condition of your home and outside weather conditions. If you are unaccustomed to turning the heat down while away from the home, you will notice greater savings that those who already practice this energy-saving technique.

Where Do I Get One? 

You can purchase a smart thermostat from home improvement centers or heating contractors.Talk to a professional about the pros and cons of the specific model to make sure you purchase the right thermostat for your needs.