If you aren't familiar with the term, a "smart" thermostat refers to a thermostat that has Wi-Fi connectivity. Smart thermostats can allow you to control your heating and cooling from an app on your smartphone, and many can even tell when you aren't at home and will modify their energy usage accordingly. Many modern smart thermostats can even learn your temperature preferences for different times of day and night and can automatically make adjustments on your behalf.
How much do smart thermostats cost?
Smart thermostats aren't terribly expensive, typically falling in the $100 to $300 range, depending on the level of features you want. Just to name a few of the most popular examples on the market in 2020 and give you an idea of their cost as of this writing:
- Nest Learning Thermostat (Third Generation): $249.99
- Ecobee Smart Thermostat with Voice Control: $244.99
- Bosch Connected Control BCC100 Thermostat: $144.18
- Honeywell Lyric T5 Smart Thermostat: $109.18
All of these offer the ability to control your heating and air conditioning remotely, but the higher-end models offer some pretty impressive features. For example, the Nest Learning Thermostat "learns" your temperature preferences during its first week in service and then creates a schedule on its own (of course, you can adjust this schedule manually). It can switch to ECO mode if it thinks you aren't home, can detect potential problems with your HVAC system, and can even tell you how long it will take your home to reach the desired temperature. The thermostat can display the weather, humidity level inside your home, and more.
However, even the lower-end smart thermostats are a big upgrade over an outdated analog model. For example, the budget-focused Honeywell (NYSE: HON) model supports Siri and Alexa voice commands and it can work with Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) HomeKit. It also offers geofencing technology, which enables it to turn your heating and central air conditioning off and on when you leave and return home.
All modern smart thermostats, such as the four mentioned above, are very easy to install, even for novices. Most simply involve removing the old thermostat, connecting the power wires, and then downloading an app that will walk you through the rest of the process.
Is a smart thermostat a good investment for your property?
Installing a smart thermostat doesn't necessarily increase the value of your property, and if it does, the impact will be negligible -- a couple hundred dollars at best.
Where a smart thermostat can add value is by saving you (or your tenants) money on heating and cooling expenses. According to one report by Google (take this with a grain of salt, since Google (NASDAQ: GOOGL) (NASDAQ: GOOG) is Nest's parent company), the average U.S. customer saved 10% to 12% on their heating bills and about 15% on cooling, which adds up to savings of $131 to $145 per year. Also bear in mind that the Nest thermostat is a higher-end model and the savings depend on the thermostat being able to detect when nobody's home as well as learn the residents' preferences.
This can be especially appealing for landlords who pay for electricity and/or gas with their rental properties. If these estimates are accurate, the savings generated by a full-featured smart thermostat could pay for the device within a couple of years.