How a Smart Thermostat Can Help You Save Energy

How a Smart Thermostat Can Help You Save Energy

Home cooling and heating consume a substantial amount of energy. In fact, HVAC is the primary contributor to the average Aitkin, MN, household’s carbon footprint. Air conditioning will be the main cause of global greenhouse gases in the 2030s. The HVAC industry has made great strides in developing more energy-efficient technologies. There are also steps we can all take as individuals and families to save even more. The first one is to use a smart thermostat.

Personalized Scheduling

The Department of Energy (DOE) promotes the use of smart thermostats by all American households. It approximates that the typical household loses as much as 10% on heating and cooling annually. This unnecessary energy consumption largely happens when you’re away from home or asleep. All smart thermostats support programming or scheduling. This feature lets you set up a schedule to avoid that waste. You could, for instance, have your thermostat adjust the AC setting several degrees an hour after your bedtime. It can then restore your preferred temperature setting an hour before you wake up.


Many smart thermostats support profiles, so you can have multiple schedules. A common setup is to have a schedule for the workweek and another for the weekend. Vacation mode is prevalent as well. This makes it easy to reduce energy consumption while away on holiday or for business. Some of the more advanced units even support profiles for individual family members and conditional sub-profiles.

Remote Access and Control

Programmable thermostats are digital units that support scheduling. Smart thermostats are programmable units that also have Wi-Fi capabilities. This technology allows the thermostat to connect to the internet but also talk directly with other smart devices. If you are already on the road and forgot to put your thermostat into vacation mode, you can apply that setting through an app on your phone.

Alerts and Notifications

Such communication can work in both directions. Your AC, for instance, can send a reminder to your phone that it’s time to schedule its seasonal tune-up. Predictive maintenance and repairs are becoming more prevalent as well. There are condenser pumps, for example, that can detect increased friction, bad capacitors, and a loss of refrigerant pressure. These advanced systems can relay this information to your thermostat, which can then alert you to schedule a preventative repair.

Adaptive Learning

Many smart thermostats on the market can learn heating and cooling trends. The industry expects these capabilities to become even more powerful as it’s better able to take advantage of cloud computing. Adaptive recovery is one of the more ubiquitous ways manufacturers use machine learning in their thermostats. In an earlier example, we discussed turning down your AC while you sleep. Manufacturers often refer to this as a smart setback. You’ll find many thermostats that have smart setbacks with adaptive recovery. This means that the thermostat can monitor the recovery period before you wake up. It tracks and analyzes that data and then adjusts to make it as efficient as possible. This is important because achieving a temperature setting uses a lot more energy than maintaining it.


Geofencing can eliminate the need to program your smart thermostat, or it can at least augment your scheduling. This is useful because many households don’t have a set schedule. Family members may come and go all the time. Geofencing is the solution. The way it works is that each household member pairs their smartphone with the smart thermostat. The thermostat then uses GPS to know where they are. The smart thermostat can automatically transition to an energy-saving mode when everyone has left. It can also detect people returning to the home and adjust the HVAC accordingly.

Multiple Remote Sensors

Another exciting trend in smart thermostats is the move to remote rather than integrated sensors. When you have a thermostat with an integrated temperature sensor, the installation location is paramount. Bad positioning can cause you to waste significant energy. If you have multiple sensors throughout the home, positioning is a lot less important. The temperature reading will also be more precise. You can add other sensors that can help you improve energy consumption too, such as humidity.

Energy Usage Reports and Analysis

Energy reporting is a powerful feature of many smart thermostats. The thermostat will track your energy consumption and provide you with weekly, monthly, and yearly reports, and analyses. This is an effective way to see where your household is efficient and where it’s not.

Home Automation Integration

Smart devices not only connect to the internet but also communicate between themselves. Smart shades can automatically open, for instance, to take advantage of natural heat and report that status to the thermostat. A thermostat can also turn on ceiling fans, adjust smart vents, and so forth.

Peak Energy Times

Another common feature is being able to adjust profiles dynamically based on energy prices. Many electric companies offer on-peak, off-peak, and discount rates. Consider a user who sets their comfortable cooling temperature while awake to 75 degrees Fahrenheit. They could also set a rule that the thermostat increases to 77 degrees during the peak period. That will reduce consumption during the period of greatest demand and save you money. Some electric companies even have an opt-in program. It gives them some control over your smart thermostat during peak periods in return for a deduction on your electricity bill.

Weather Monitoring and Response

An advantage of connecting to the internet is access to real-time data. One of the more interesting ways manufacturers are using this capability is weather pattern monitoring. It’s useful in areas prone to big temperature changes. A smart thermostat with this feature can detect an incoming cold front and proactively preheat the home.

Software Updates

Internet access also allows your smart thermostat to access the manufacturer’s website. Through it, it can download updates to its operating system, the algorithms it uses, and the scripts for its features. This provides your thermostat with a longer useful lifespan because the manufacturer can continue to update it.

ENERGY STAR Certification

ENERGY STAR is an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) program through which it certifies smart thermostats and many other appliances and devices. When you choose an EPA-certified thermostat, you have confidence that the manufacturer has rigorously tested its energy-saving features. ENERGY STAR-certified smart thermostats save homeowners approximately 8%, which is close to the upper DOE estimate.

Your Local Smart Thermostat Experts in Aitkin

If you’d like to install a smart thermostat or upgrade your existing model, Northern Air Plumbing & Heating is here to help. We have offices in Aitkin and Brainerd and serve homeowners throughout the surrounding region. Our NATE-certified HVAC technicians specialize in furnaces, heat pumps, geothermal systems, air conditioners, and ductless mini-splits. We also install and service air exchangers, air purifiers, dehumidifiers, and humidifiers. Ask us about our indoor air quality services! If you need plumbing services, we can help with that as well. Our plumbers perform repairs and installations and specialize in fixtures, drain cleaning, water heaters, water softeners, sump pumps, and leak detection.

Contact us at your earliest convenience to schedule an appointment or with any questions about the products and services we offer.

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