Why Are Smart Thermostats the Most Popular Smart Home Devices?

By Special Guest
Cher Zevala, Special Correspondent
December 01, 2017

These days, almost any object can be connected to the Internet of Things: speakers, refrigerators, lightbulbs, dog bowls, flower pots. Yet, when a person first decides to dip his toe into home automation, for his first smart purchase, he is overwhelmingly likely to choose… a thermostat.

Smart thermostats allow users to remotely control their home’s temperature. Further, most models can gather data and learn when users are home and what to set temperatures at during different periods of the day. Both of these features — unavailable in traditional room thermostats — are beneficial to homeowners with hectic schedules and those who enjoy complete control over their living environment.

Thermostats were among the first smart tech to emerge, but even in a world where smart devices abound, smart home thermostats remain among the most popular. Why?

Smart Thermostats Are Affordable

Smart thermostats are surprisingly cheap — but they have a large impact on the home. In purchase price, smart thermostat models can range in price from under $100 to just above $200, which is well below the price of other smart appliances, like refrigerators, dishwashers, and clothes dryers. Thus, a smart thermostat is a relatively small investment for those just interested in smart home technology and the Internet of Things.

Yet, despite their size and low cost, smart thermostats have a notable impact on a user’s finances. The average smart thermostat can save users between 10 and 12 percent on heating and 15 percent on cooling — averaging between $131 and $145 in savings every year. By choosing the right smart thermostat, users can recoup their small investment in less than 1 year, which makes the devices more than affordable.

Smart Thermostats Enhance Comfort

Still, most new consumers are initially unaware of the financial benefits of smart thermostats. Instead, according to Houzz, “Upgrades to climate controls are all about improving comfort.” Indeed, the primary reason new users are drawn to smart thermostats is their power in improving the comfort of the home environment.

Because traditional thermostats cannot communicate with users’ connected devices, they require users to experience less-than-ideal environments before they can change. Then, users must continue to suffer through too-hot or too-cold rooms before the thermostat can adequately cool or heat. Meanwhile, a smart thermostat eliminates that misery. Users can monitor home temperatures from afar and alter them as necessary, so thermostats can bring rooms to the optimal temperatures before homeowners return. Thus, users only experience comfort in areas controlled by a smart thermostat.

Smart Thermostats Provide Control

Studies on smart home technology have illuminated interesting views regarding control. Depending on the device, users might feel more or less control over their home environments with the addition of connectivity and machine learning. For example, devices that prioritize learned behaviors over user-controlled demands tend to make users feel as though devices were “overriding their judgements about household management.” Meanwhile, devices with an abundance of capabilities and features often imbue users with a greater sense of control.

Smart thermostats tend to fall in the latter category. Because smart thermostats are not overly complicated, nearly any homeowner can install and use one with ease. Additionally, unlike more advanced smart tech, smart thermostats respond immediately to user commands, altering the environment as directed. Thus, smart thermostats are popular because they increase a user’s sense of control over his home and life.

Smart Thermostats Help the Environment

Because smart thermostats save energy, they benefit the environment. Heating and cooling account for about 48 percent of all residential energy use, which is by far the largest energy-related expense in the home. By reducing energy consumption even slightly, homeowners can cut their carbon footprints and be certain of lower greenhouse gas emissions on their behalves. Less pollution means cleaner air, water and soil, healthier ecosystems, and a greater longevity for the Earth.

A home temperature change of 3 degrees Fahrenheit (in either direction, depending on the season) could prevent 1,050 pounds of carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere. Using a smart thermostat allows homeowners to make this small temperature change permanent.

Though environmental concerns are not a primary driving force for adopting smart thermostats — or any smart devices — they do factor into many consumers’ buying behavior. A simple switch to this unobtrusive smart device can have major positive ramifications in the environment, which is like a cherry topping a delicious sundae of technology that is smart home thermostats.

Edited by Ken Briodagh

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