Is your smart thermostat working as smartly as it could be? While various models promise comfort, convenience and energy savings, these high-tech alternatives to traditional thermostats need a little help from those who install them. It’s not quite as simple as purchasing one, installing it, and then sitting back and watching your energy bill drop.
To ensure you’re getting the maximum benefit from a smart thermostat, there are some steps you can take to help it work to its full potential. Don’t worry—these steps are still more convenient than adjusting the thermostat manually each time you want to change the temperature, but they do take a bit of effort and know-how.
How to save money with your smart thermostat
Here are a few simple steps that can make your smart thermostat work a lot smarter for you.
1. Buy a model with temperature sensors
A thermostat that works with sensors can help you control the temperature of each room in your home separately. There’s no need to keep a room you rarely use as warm or cold as the rest of the house, for example; plus, family members might like to keep their bedrooms at slightly different temperatures.
With temperature sensors, you can choose to set differing temperatures for various rooms. For example, you may choose to keep a guest bedroom at a different temperature than the rest of the house when you don’t have guests. Occupancy sensors go a step further by detecting when there are actually people in various rooms and will adjust the temperature accordingly to bring the room to a desired temperature while they’re there.
2. Set a schedule
Do you always leave for work at 8 a.m. and get home around 6 p.m.? Is it lights out in your house at 10 p.m. each night? No matter what your schedule, a smart thermostat lets you schedule the temperature at your home for specific periods of time so you don’t needlessly heat and cool your home while you’re not even there. That means you might choose to turn down the air or heat while you’re away, then schedule it to rise back up to a more comfortable level just in time for your return home. You can always adjust it if your schedule changes. Also, there are some smart thermostats that will learn your habits and adjust their settings accordingly.
According to Energy.gov, setting your thermostat 7 to 10 degrees lower than its normal setting for eight hours each day can result in savings up to 10 percent each year.
3. Use home or away notifications
If your schedule is a bit more sporadic, you may find yourself wanting to use a feature that lets your thermostat know when you’re home and when you’re away. It works with sensors and/or your phone’s GPS to alert it to the comings and goings of those in your household. That way, it’s not needlessly heating and cooling the house when nobody’s home. That means never having to ask yourself again if you remembered to turn down the air conditioner before you left for vacation.
4. Set smart home rules
If you have a smart home service, such as IFTTT, you can use sensors to set rules for your thermostat. For example, you could program it to turn off the air conditioning any time the windows or the sliding door is open. That way you don’t have to remember to do it manually, and your money doesn’t fly right out the proverbial window.
Depending on which security system you use, you may also be able to link your smart thermostat to your system, so that it senses when you’re away and adjust the temperature accordingly. Some will also alert you if the temperature in your home drops so low that your pipes may be in danger of freezing. Not only that, but in some cases, you can control your home security system and smart thermostat through one single app, which is not only convenient, but may also make you more likely to make money saving temperature adjustments.
5. Track your energy usage
Most smart thermostats generate usage reports, which make it easy for you to see just how much energy you’re using and identify any patterns you may be able to change. Taking just a few minutes to review your energy usage could lead to significant savings.
6. Don’t forget to update your settings
Once you program your thermostat and set rules, don’t just forget about them. You’ll likely need to adjust them as the seasons change. The more drastic the temperature changes in your area, the more frequently you’ll likely need to update them.
7. Place your thermostat properly
Your thermostat won’t work as well as it could if you don’t place it properly within your house. Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions, but in general, a thermostat should be placed on an interior wall that’s away from things that could alter the temperature around it, such as windows, a breezy entryway or behind furniture. Make sure it’s easy to reach too so that it’s as simple as possible to adjust.
Related: Check out our picks for the best smart thermostats
Bottom line on saving with your smart thermostat
If you’re going to the expense and effort of buying and installing a smart thermostat, make sure it’s saving you every dime it can. With just a few simple steps, you can ensure that yours is working as smartly as smart can be.
This article has been reviewed and approved by Officer Banta.
Officer Banta is the official SecurityNerd home security and safety expert. A member of the Biloxi Police Department for over 24 years, Officer Banta reviews all articles before lending his stamp of approval. Click here for more information on Officer Banta and the rest of our team.