If you're new to sustainable living, start with the low-hanging fruit, like buying a smart thermostat. It's an easy, green upgrade to any home, and it doesn't cost a fortune. A smart thermostat helps save you energy, it keeps your home warm and cozy in the winter and cool and comfortable in the summer. It's one of the easiest sustainable living products for beginners.
How a smart thermostat keeps you comfy
A smart thermostat gets to know you and creates a custom schedule based on the temperate you set each day. You don’t even need to schedule it. Alternatively, you can set up your own schedule so it to turns on at certain times. We schedule ours to turn on just before the alarm goes on so it’s nice and warm by the time we get up in the winter. We also set it to stay off at night unless it’s extremely hot or cold. When the heat or AC turns on it wakes me up every time, so it helps avoid the 3 a.m. insomnia that inevitably follows.
How a smart thermostat saves you money
Heat and air conditioning add up to about half of an average energy bill according to EnergyStar.gov. Smart thermostats save energy and money by staying off when you’re not home. For example, the Nest Learning Thermostat knows when you’re away and adjusts the temperature accordingly. You can turn it on and off from your smartphone or create a schedule so the air doesn't run while you're away.
The Nest thermostat saves customers 10% - 12% on heating and 15% on cooling on average, and that can save between $131 to $145 per year, according to Nest.com.
Why we need smart thermostats
Smart thermostats will be an important piece in the transition to a grid that runs more on renewable energy sources and less on fossil fuels according to Drawdown.org. The problem with renewable energy is that it’s not a constant source of energy. No sun, no solar power. No wind, no wind power. As energy storage improves that will solve some problems, but the grid will require more flexibility from homeowners.
That’s where smart thermostats and appliances come in. In the future, smart technology can become a sort of middle man between the grid and our homes. For example, if the grid is low on solar power, and running more stored power, smart thermostats may let you know that the electric company will charge you more. You can then choose to pay more now or set the dryer to turn on when it’s cheaper and energy is more abundant. There's still a lot to be developed in the transition to renewable energy, but smart thermostats and appliances will most likely play a role.
Before you buy a smart thermostat
Confirm compatibility - A smart thermostat works with most heating and cooling systems, but not all. Double-check on the smart thermostats website.
Pick a good WIFI location - Most smart thermostats need a WiFi connection. Before you pick a spot for it, make sure your WiFi can reach it.
Buy an Energy Star-rated smart thermostat - Go to EnergyStar.gov to see them all.
Incentives and rebates - Check with your local utility company.