Are Programmable Thermostats Worth the Investment?

Smart thermostats can be a good investment when utilized correctly

Indoor Spaces
5 min read

Smart thermostats can be a good investment when utilized correctly

Whether you live in a house or a condo, the heating and cooling of your home is responsible for 45% of your monthly hydro bill. A traditional thermostat will keep your home temperature constant even when you are away or sleeping. With a programmable thermostat, you can turn down the heating and cooling for times when you don’t need it, leaving you with a more manageable hydro bill. However, these units require some initial investment, so are they worth the investment?

Smart thermostats can reduce your hydro bill significantly and will be a good investment in the long run if they are used correctly. Some manufacturers claim that programmable thermostats can reduce your heating by up to 30%, but these figures are based on perfect conditions that rarely occur outside of the lab. The EPA warns: “Consumers are often advised that installing a programmable thermostat can save them anywhere from 10 to 30% on the space heating and cooling portion of their energy bills. While reliant on proper use of the programmable thermostat, such savings are easily true in theory; however, there needs to be more field-tested data to better substantiate savings claims. Analyses from recent field studies have suggested that programmable thermostats may be achieving considerably lower savings than their estimated potential.”

Some studies into the efficiency of programmable thermostats found that savings were in the 6.2 to 6.8%. One study in Florida even discovered that homes that utilized programmable thermostats actually used 12% more energy.

Realistically, savings seem to average around 10-12% for heating and 15% for cooling. This would mean that you save $131-$145 a year and can pay off the initial investment for the unit and installation in about two years.

Homeowners can save even more now that Enbridge has introduced its Smart Thermostats Program which offers a $100 rebate for home and condo owners who purchase and install a Nest or Ecobee thermostat and before December 31, 2016.

What this tells us is that using a programmable thermostat can be very rewarding and can result in savings and reduced hydro bills, but this requires a little education and commitment from the home occupants. Homeowners must learn to use the programmable thermostats correctly to ensure that the home is kept comfortable while using as little energy as possible. Limit manual overrides and use the ‘vacation’ feature when your home will be unoccupied for several days. Either educate all the home occupants or restrict use to those who know how to use the programmable thermostat effectively.

Take time to programme your smart thermostat correctly and ask your installation professional to show you how to use all of the features.

A survey by Better Homes and Gardens found that millennials rate homes with smart technology higher, with 70% saying that smart technology would make their homes more energy efficient. Introducing a programmable thermostat is likely to raise the value of your home to young families who are entering the market.

Home and condo owners should do their due diligence when investigating which home improvements will render the greatest financial rewards and increase the value of their home. You can utilize the Home Energy Savings Calculator to see which investments are best for your home. 

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