How much can a smart AC controller save you?
Modern looking smart thermostats and AC plus look cool and pledge to save households money and reduce their energy costs.
However, how true is this? Will installing smart AC controls decrease energy bills and save you money? Moreover, at a price that is more expensive than a typical programmable thermostat, is it worth it?
- How smart AC controllers reduce energy consumption
- Other methods of reducing energy bills
- Differences between regular, programmable and smart thermostats
- Are smart AC controllers really worth it?
- Energy saving calculators
How can a smart AC controller reduce energy bills?
A smart AC controller isn’t some mystical device that changes the laws of physics to use less energy. In reality, to reduce your energy costs is to reduce the amount of power you use, setting temperatures lower during heating and higher during cooling. Straightforward really.
The intelligent part of smart AC controllers is controlling when the device is on when you leave and off when you return home, warms/cools when you awake and vice versa, and detecting faults and errors with air quality. Moreover, the most reliable factor is that it does not get lazy.
A typical American home can diminish heating and cooling costs if they only change their thermostats by 7°-10°F for 8 hours/day from the usual starting point. Doing so can reduce a home’s energy bills by 10%. Moreover, not many households do this, even with standard programmable thermostats.
Recent research identified that almost 50% of households that own programmable or smart thermostats don’t configure them correctly. Reasons include a range from forgetfulness, not sure how to, or it seemed so overwhelming to set it up.
For many of us, once it is set up smart and programmable thermostats merely function as programmed. For others, they will micro-manage the thermostat, turning it off and on, up and down when they see fit.
The households that will benefit from smart AC are the ones who do not micro-manage their thermostats – manual thermostats tend to be left at the same temperature for twenty-fours a day, seven days a week – burning through energy bills at the same time.
However, that doesn’t mean a smart AC controller is not utterly useless. Smart AC provide additional benefits that can make it a worthwhile investment.
Before we discuss their benefits, let’s examine other options that could save you money.
Can heat pumps save money?
Prior to the smart AC controller era, both programmable and standard thermostats were not suggested for use with heat pumps. Heat pumps take longer to both heat or cool a space compared to conventional heating appliances. To compensate, most heat pump appliances are fitted with an auxiliary electric resistance heater designed to trigger during adverse weather conditions when the heat pump alone is unable to manage the temperature control.
Sadly, this auxiliary heater is far less effective than the heat pump itself. Thus, avoiding auxiliary heat use whenever possible is recommended. Should households use a typical programmable thermostat with a heat pump, it will tend to unnecessarily trigger the ineffective auxiliary heat and thus simultaneously save on energy bills.
The great news is that the new breed of smart thermostats can envision this predicament. Thermostats like AirPatrol and Cielo can begin the heat pump up to five hours earlier so that your home can reach its desired comfortable temperature at the precise time families need it using only the heat pump per se.
Can I save money with a boiler?
Another unique plus of using smart AC controllers is that the best smart thermostats can manage a heating systems boiler, commonly avoiding the problem of overshooting the temperature.
Boiler systems continue to heat their surrounding space for a short period after the boiler has been switched off. It will also take some time to switch back on and then heat up when the temperature once again falls below the set starting point. Without precise control, this will cause an alternating effect on the actual temperature. The home will always be switching from either too cold or too hot. There were never be a happy medium.
So apart from constantly managing your manual controls and ensuring correct maintenance. Consider upgrading your heating controls to improve the effectiveness of your HVAC, and cut your costs by up to 20%.
How much do regular thermostats save you?
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, homeowners could save on average, at least 10% annually with a programmable thermostat versus a traditional one.
A 2004 study of 25,000 Quebec homes highlighted a meager 3.6%of annual energy savings with a programmable thermostat. A natural gas billing study from 2006 demonstrated a 6.3% savings with programmable thermostats.
The savings as mentioned above are assuming you have an old thermostat that’s not programmable or a programmable thermostat that is not set up correctly.
The latter scenario of not being set up is typical amongst homeowners. Out of 35,471 NYC and San Francisco programmable thermostats monitored in 2003, 53% were in “hold” mode or not programmed.
The point then is that even with programmable thermostats, the possible savings are being wasted, and savings are no different that of a manual thermostat.
OK, so how much can smart thermostats save you?
Realistically it is unrealistic to compare smart AC controllers compared to manual and programmable ones. The comparable numbers can vary wildly based on home size, insulation, local weather, type of climate control system, and of course, how much time people spend in and out of the house.
According to the manufacturers themselves, the savings are estimates and not guaranteed. For example, Ecobee claims their thermostats saved owners an average of 23% in cooling and heating costs, while Nest claims they will save you 10 – 12% on your heating and 15% on cooling from three research studies, resulting in average annual savings of $131 – $145.
With these savings numbers, it would take at least one year for the smart AC controller to pay for itself in savings. So while it sure does save you money, there must be more reasons to get one.
What other benefits do smart AC controllers offer?
It is worth considering other advantages of smart AC controllers when considering cost and energy savings. To many, features and functionality are just as important as reducing energy cost. However, just because we can’t put a precise number on it doesn’t mean they don’t have some monetary value.
In another Nest piece of research, over 60% of the participants said their homes became “somewhat more comfortable” or “much more comfortable” while using a smart learning thermostat.
Another significant plus of the energy saving smart thermostat is convenience. In a best-case scenario, homeowners will be more comfortable, be more accessible to manage, save money on their energy bills, and all this done automatically without the requirement to set it manually. Smart AC controllers are also much easier to program than older programmable thermostats. No need to micro-manage the thermostat before going to bed and waking up or worrying about difficulties with the thermostat’s setup.
Smart controllers are more than mere thermostats – they can also control ventilation fans, portable fans, window ACs, and dehumidifiers – basically all components of a fully-functioning HVAC system. Smart AC controllers then, while decreasing power consumption, increase comfort, are more convenient and help with saving the environment.
Notable features of smart AC controllers are:
As discussed setup plays a colossal factor when wasting possible energy savings. Smart AC controllers for stand-alone AC units should easily be plugged in so that households do not have to spend additional funds on installation.
Modern controllers now contain built-in humidity and temperature sensors to ensure that your set point temperature is the temperature you are receiving. This feature is critical to provide a comfortable environment inside the room.
A dirty air filter will result in not only inefficient airflow and bad room conditions, yet power through more energy usage. A smart AC controller can monitor a live AC air filter status and get a timely reminder to clean the air filter, which is imperative if you people within your household who suffer from allergies or other airborne pathogens.
Smart thermostats can also program schedules so that homeowners can schedule temperature, fan speed, time to heat, and modes, right from a mobile phone app.
As per the program schedules, modern AC controllers have an automatic shut off when people have left home automatically switches on when they arrive home though location-based controls known as geo-fencing.
Unlike regular thermostats who don’t offer this feature, smart thermostats contain usage history that empowers users to monitor their saving goals – daily, weekly or monthly usage that can be used to plan your future use and subsequent energy-saving goals.
Other key features that smart AC offers is the opportunity to create multiple zones through a smart app and then manage these zones from that said app. This is invalubel in more bigger homes and hotels.
Voice-control compatibility is the next thing in smart control automation. As with Amazon Alexa and Google Home, now users can speak to their AC without even using their hands on a smart app.
So, are smart AC controllers really worth it?
The novelty and coolness factor of being able to control your home temperature with a smartphone app is high, yet in terms of real dollar savings, Wi-Fi smart thermostats could be considered too expensive compared to standard programmable thermostats.
Putting aside the novelty factor, it is safe to say that households can expect to save at least 10% on their energy usage if they are using a smart AC controller right. The later generation of Wi-Fi smart AC controllers are not only more intelligent and more stylish than the previous brand of smart thermostats when it comes to regulating home temperature, are unbelievably more straightforward and more natural to use.
Indeed, households can save a comparable amount with a lower-end old-fashioned programmable thermostat; even older generational smart thermostats. Ultimately though, the savings occur whether homes utilize the full array of settings including geo-fencing, ensuring their HVAC is correctly maintained, and other AC saving tips like reducing the AC system at night and before you leave your home for the day.
Odds are if you are doing the above and using a smart AC controller during periods of high AC usage (summer and winter) you will save money on getting a smart AC controller. Now is the prime time to consider making your air conditioning smart.
Tools to aid measuring your energy consumption
The amount a home could save depends on thermostat habits, type of thermostat and environment of where the house is located. Here is a list of a few energy consumption calculators that will provide you with an idea of how much you can save:
This calculator will give the most accurate estimate but requires the most input. It will provide you with a great sense of how much households can save. The savings estimates are based on a home’s current temperature settings compared to how you intend to adjust the settings in future situations.
Honeywell provides a calculator too, permitting households to set custom cooling and heating timetables to predict savings estimates.
Nest provides a simple calculator that is swift and straightforward. However, a note of caution, the estimated savings it offers will be quite extensive. Scroll down the page about halfway to find the calculator.
As with all any air conditioning and energy saving, to really save on energy costs households should consider complimenting purchasing a smart AC controller with other air conditioning saving tips.