Smart Thermostat Options and Rebates

A woman walks down stairs in her home. There is a smart thermostat on the wall near her.

A comparison of the market’s smartest and most popular

Heating and cooling costs account for about half of a user’s energy bill, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. When it comes to reducing energy use and cutting home energy costs, programming the thermostat can make a big impact. The right thermostat settings could yield energy savings of 8% to 15%, and new technology makes it easier than ever to achieve those settings.

Smart thermostats are Wi-Fi enabled and can be controlled remotely with a tablet, smartphone or voice control. Some models use multiple sensors to monitor temperatures in various parts of the home for more balanced heating or cooling, track user temperature preferences and use the data to optimize your heating and cooling schedule. Some are designed for complex multistage systems that control heating, cooling, dehumidifier and ventilation systems.

If you are interested in controlling your thermostat with your voice or an app, or in being hands-off and letting it learn your habits, consider a smart thermostat. To narrow your choices, factor in smart features, price and attributes that matter most to you such as color, size or style, and make sure the chosen product supports your HVAC system.

The Nest 3rd Generation Learning Thermostat and Ecobee4 are the most popular and sophisticated devices in this category. Both devices are priced around $250, but consumers can easily recoup their money in energy-cost savings.

You can quickly get $100 back from this purchase with Benton REA’s smart thermostat rebate. Members who have their thermostat installed professionally will receive an additional $25 incentive from Benton REA.

There are many similarities between the two thermostats. Both can be adjusted via computer, tablet, smartphone, Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa device. Both can interact with other smart devices and use your phone’s GPS to determine if you’re home, then automatically adjust the temperature. Nest’s geofencing works with multiple phones, while Ecobee supports just one phone. Ecobee makes up for this difference with more sophisticated sensors.

The Nest and Ecobee can be upgraded to include remote sensors that allow the thermostat to take readings from any room throughout your home and adjust the temperature accordingly. This can be an advantage if your thermostat is near a draft or in direct sunlight.

The Ecobee and Nest sensors also have occupancy sensing, which notices if there is movement in the house to override geofencing if the primary phone user leaves the house and someone is still there.

Nest, powered by a rechargeable battery, is a learning thermostat and automatically learns your schedule. When you begin using Nest, it makes a few assumptions and creates a baseline for its schedule. As you adjust the temperature, Nest records it. After a week, it learns your schedule and preferred temperature settings. It continues to learn and respond to your adjustments. Nest records 10 days of energy-use data that shows you a visual of the times your system turned on and off during those 10 days. Nest also sends a monthly email report that includes a summary of your energy use compared to previous months and other Nest users.

Ecobee must be hardwired to your electrical system. It features a touchscreen and can analyze HVAC data for 18 months. All temperature and motion data from the thermostat and sensors is recorded and can be accessed online by the owner to help you monitor total energy use, how the weather influences your use, and how your home efficiency compares to other users in your area.

Both thermostats can connect with various energy devices in your home. Ecobee recognizes dehumidifiers, heat pumps and ventilators. Nest recognizes heat pumps and auxiliary heat.

Whichever fits your lifestyle and preferences, a smart thermostat is a good investment that can help you save energy and money in a more convenient way than ever.

Get up to $125 for your smart thermostat purchase. Visit BentonREA.org/rebates for more information and to download the application.

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