With so many facets of daily life being interconnected by smart devices, maybe you’re thinking about getting a smart thermostat for your home. Sure, they let you remote control your home’s heating and air conditioning so you can keep up with your family’s busy schedule while keeping your home comfortable, but can they really save energy and money from your energy bills?
The answer? A resounding “Yes!” Both the Nest and the Meridian Smart Thermostat from Honeywell first track how you use energy for heating and cooling and then help you adjust temperature settings to reduce your usage and save you money. The Nest Learning Thermostat programs itself and automatically helps save energy when you’re away. The Direct Energy Meridian Smart Thermostat allows you to control your home’s heating and cooling from anywhere, at any time, while helping you to achieve up to 10% savings on your electricity bill. Both are easy to set up, both use data from your daily schedule, and both let you know when you’re saving money.
To see how this works, let’s follow a typical week-long routine and look at what it’s like to live with both The Nest and the Meridian Smart Thermostat.
What It’s Like to Live with One
Let’s say you’ve had your smart thermostat for about one month. If you’re in Texas, your settings for the Meridian Smart Thermostat were entered online when you ordered the thermostat. If you’re in Alberta, Canada, you entered your settings into your Nest during the first week and after that, the Nest has since taken over. By now, both thermostats know your basic regular schedule, as an example, looks like this:
Monday to Friday:
- Overnight setback temperature (62°F) changes to wake temperature (70°F) at 6:00 am. Family rises by 6:30 am.
- Daytime setback temperature (65°F) at 8:00 am. Family leaves for work and school by 8:30 am.
- Return temperature (70°F) at 4:00 pm. Family members return home between 4:30 and 5:30 pm.
- Changes to overnight setback temperature (62°F) at 9:30 pm. Family goes to bed by 10:00 pm
- Overnight temperature (62°F) changes to wake temperature (70°F) at 7 am. Family sleeps in until 8 am.
- Maintains daytime temperature (70°F). Different family members leave for and return from activities throughout Saturday and Sunday. There is always at least one person home.
- Saturday night overnight setback temperature (62°F) changes at 11:00 PM . Family goes to bed by 11:30.
- Sunday overnight setback temperature (62°F) changes at 9:30 PM. Family goes to bed by 10:00 pm.
Now, any programmable thermostat can do the same thing and save you $180 annually from your heating/cooling bills. Basic programmable thermostats just follow a schedule – they aren’t designed to find ways to save you money. But because smart thermostats are data-driven and give you greater flexibility, they leave these older thermostats out in the cold.
For example: Monday is a “normal” day, so things run much like clockwork. On Tuesday after school, your son has play rehearsal, your daughter has martial arts lessons, and you have errands to run. At lunch, your spouse texts you that she has a late afternoon meeting that will run painfully long. At this rate, no one is getting home until 6:00 PM. By using the app on your smart phone, you can extend the daytime setback temperature from 4:00 pm until 5:30 pm. It’s an opportunity for tiny savings, but repeating this practice of resetting will add savings throughout the year.
Wednesday is cooler, rainy, and just plain dreary. Late in the morning, your daughter comes down with the 24-hour stomach virus that’s been going around, and you have to pick her up from school and take her home. You punch up the smart phone app to raise the temperature at home. After making her comfortable in bed and getting yourself a bite for lunch, you set the thermostat to 68°F and return to work. While you may have spent a little extra on energy today, it’s a rare enough occurrence that it won’t add that much to your bill.
Thursday morning promises a warm, sunny day (50°F) so you decide to lower your daytime setback temperature to 62°F. At lunch, you check the smart phone app and find your home is staying at 65°F just from sunshine alone. You change the daytime setback temperature to 62°F. And then, as an experiment, you lower the return temperature to 69°F. That evening, no one notices the lower temperature. You decide to make the change permanent. Remember, every heating degree reduced in the 60-70°F range yields 5% savings. You’ve saved 15% during the day and another 5% during the evening from your previous programmed settings.
Friday starts off according to schedule, but unexpected plans intervene. At lunch, your spouse texts to say you are both going out for dinner at a new restaurant. Then your son texts you that he has dress rehearsal at 6 PM and the cast is ordering pizza for dinner. Your daughter calls you and asks if she can sleep over at a friend’s house. As it is, it looks like no one will be home until 8:30 pm or later. If you have the Nest thermostat, “Auto-Away™” will be active and it’s motion detectors will turn up the heat automatically when someone’s home. If you have the Meridian, you can use the app to maintain the daytime setback temperature until 8:00 pm. Later on at the resturant, you and your spouse bump into some friends. You take a minute to launch the smart phone app and reset the thermostat to warm up the house at 10:00 pm for an hour or so. By then, you and your spouse and your son will be home. All told, by being able to remotely reset your smart thermostat, you’ve been able to save about an additional 30% off your energy cost for the day.
Saturday is typical with family members leaving and returning the home. One interesting thing to report is that you discover an additional energy savings by tweaking the daytime temperature to 69°F. That night, you go to watch your son in the high school play. Not only are you proud of his performance but you’ve also set your thermostat to the daytime setback while you’re away enjoying the show. You’ve saved about 5% off what it normally would have cost you. Bravo!
Sunday starts peaceful and stays that way. The daytime temperature is now set to 69°F and no one is cold or much less even notices that you are saving money.
So in this brief walk-through, smart thermostats saved you an average of 8% more off your original daily programmed settings. While that might not sound ground-breaking, that’s still an extra $8.00 from a monthly $100 energy bill; $96 less for the whole year. Plus, since these thermostats learn how you use energy over time, they can predict your behavior and recommend energy saving settings. And you’ll also learn more about how well your home heats and cools, which can also help reduce your energy costs. Using a device like The Nest or Meridian Smart Thermostat from Honeywell not only saves you money, it’s also an intelligent investment.