The Problem with Thermostats—and What Smart Technology Is Doing About It

 OfficeThermostatWith temperatures plummeting during the winter months and soaring in the summer season, HVAC systems make up a sizable part of many people’s energy bill. Luckily, for financially pressed homeowners, advances in programmable thermostats have the potential to dramatically reduce energy costs—if only Americans could learn how to program them correctly!

Sadly, according to the United States Department of Energy, Americans are having the same problem programming their thermostats that their grandparents experienced when attempting to program their VCR back in the day. That blinking “12:00” of 1974 has been replaced with an even more annoying power bill in 2014. Taking steps to understand how to correctly program your thermostat has definite financial rewards.

Not Saving Money? Perhaps You’re Using Your Thermostat Wrong

According to the survey, the vast majority of Americans have not cracked the mystery of using their thermostats correctly. Indeed, considering that residential thermostats account for a whopping nine percent of all U.S. energy costs, mastering your thermostat’s usage can save upwards of fifteen percent a year in energy spending.

A programmable thermostat allows you to enter multiple timed heating temperatures, which affords you the opportunity to match your energy consumption to when you actually need the power. However, fewer than thirty percent of American homes are equipped with the programmable device, even though they have been around since the Carter Administration.

What’s more, according to a 2003 study, less than half of those programmable thermostats are used in program mode. The majority is operated in “hold mode,” which transform the unit into nothing more than a fancy manual thermostat. The information was so disheartening that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) suspended their EnergyStar program for these thermostats in 2009, citing “questions concerning the net energy savings and environmental benefits that consumers were achieving with the devices.”

That being said, however, the advent of even more sophisticated thermostats might serve to change the calculus of homeowners who have previously eschewed the programming functions—by giving that responsibility to the thermostat.

The Next Generation of Smart Temperature Control

The next generation of smart thermostats promises to reverse these abysmal trends. reports that user-friendly HVAC controls, operated via Wi-Fi connectivity, offer interactive control over all aspects of power consumption, and lets the consumer monitor and rationalize energy costs.

One such unit, The Nest, recalls the homeowner’s preferred temperatures, and utilizes active sensors to monitor temperature, humidity, and other environmental factors. Using zip code to define regional climate conditions, the Nest thermostat can adjust its settings based on changing weather conditions. Additionally, with remote control access from a corresponding phone app or the Internet, maintaining a vigilant watch over runaway power bills suddenly becomes easy and convenient.

Reducing your carbon footprint means reducing your monthly power bills, and that task promises to become much easier with the advent of smart technology such as the intuitive and programmable thermostats that are entering the market. While most homeowners inherit the thermostat that comes with their new house, savvy homeowners looking to save a lot of money on their power bills are already talking to HVAC professionals about swapping out their old models.

Author Bio:

Audrey Clark is a skilled freelance blogger covering a range of topics from careers and finance to travel and leisure, along with everything in-between. When not writing, she’s always on the lookout for her next adventure. 


Erin Emanuel