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How to check if your smart thermostat is working

Smart thermostats are popular for making planning easier, saving on monthly utility bills, and encouraging homeowners to look for other ways to save. They can also learn from your habits at home to make adjustments, provide important weather information, help set vacation modes, and more.

All of these thermostat features really help you save money and improve performance. Trust us, we’ve seen them work! But when you install a smart thermostat, it can be hard to tell if it’s working well or if it’s making a difference. This guide will show you what to watch to see how well your smart thermostat is performing and keep track of what has changed over time.

Wait for multiple billing cycles

Comparison of temperatures between a smartphone application and a thermostat connected to the wall.

Smart thermostats promise to save money, but how do you know they’re working? One of the more straightforward ways is to run your smart thermostat, set a schedule according to suggested guidelines, and wait a few months. This will give you multiple cycles of energy bills to compare with your other bills.

Studies of Nest smart thermostats have shown that users save at least 10-12% on their heating bills and 15% on cooling bills, assuming average usage. It is important to know your specific results and to wait a bit for the smart thermostats to start implementing what they have learned. Google’s Nest thermostats, for example, can sense when people are moving around the room – when placed in a central location, they’ll be able to make more efficient heating / cooling decisions after a few months of data.

When you compare your new bills to your old bills, don’t just compare them to the bills just before you get the smart thermostat. Instead, compare it to last year’s bills in the same time period, to account for weather and seasons. If you’re not sure what your bills from last year looked like, go to your utility company’s website and log in with your account – they usually have searchable records handy. . Since the HVAC system is the biggest consumer of electricity in most buildings, differences should start to be noticeable.

One last point: the savings are significant, but they work best by following the temperature guidelines. If you’ve set temperatures higher than usual using the smart thermostat app, your energy bills may be higher, even if the thermostat is working great. There are many recommendations, but setting your winter temperatures (heating) to around 68 to 65 degrees Fahrenheit and summer temperatures (cooling) to around 75 to 78 degrees Fahrenheit is a common suggestion … with more latitude at night when everyone else. sleeps.

Read your monthly reports

A title page of the Nest Thermostat report.

Smart Thermostats provide monthly reports that show how your thermostat is working, along with useful efficiency data. If you’re willing to dig into the details, you can glean a lot of information about how your thermostat behaves. Let’s take a look at an average Nest Monthly Report.

Nest Thermostat energy consumption report.

Energy summary: This section provides specific breakdown of how often your thermostat was on and, if so, how often it was heating. Watch for hours of use decrease over time as you use eco mode and your thermostat remembers your habits.

Nest report on why energy use has changed.

Why has energy consumption changed? Here, Nest takes a look at the key drivers of last month’s business. You can see that he decided that the warmer weather in January was responsible for the savings. A number of different cards may appear here. You may see an icon to save because you have adjusted the temperature. You will also see icons indicating whether you have used Following energy by adjusting items such as Away / Home settings.

Nest Leafs Report.

Sheets : Nest assigns “leaves” based on how much energy you’ve saved over the month, including things like using eco mode. These can be affected by the time you spend at home, how often your thermostat operates, etc. Earning Leafs is an easy way to see that you are making a difference.

Of course, not all smart thermostats use this system, but their reports are all useful in their own way. Ecobee, for example, uses a report that shows how much your runtime is each month, and how efficient you are compared to the rest of Ecobee thermostat users.

Watch for warning signs

A Nest thermostat on a white wall while a father cooks in the background.

Sometimes your smart thermostat will indicate that something is not working properly. This could be a sign that the thermostat is having trouble operating, but more often than not it is an indicator that the HVAC system components are malfunctioning. Either way, maybe it’s time to take a closer look. Watch for warning signs such as:

  • Messages indicating “Delayed” or “Starts in” a certain number of minutes: If these messages are showing on your thermostat, it is a sign of communication problems or seriously overloaded HVAC units that must shut down to protect themselves.
  • Short cycles that turn on and off quickly: You can define the behavior of the heating / cooling cycle on many smart thermostats, but only in general. When cycles start and stop quickly, it’s a sign that something is wrong. This could mean that a unit is overloaded with work – this was a common problem during the last heat wave, for example.
  • Your thermostat constantly alternates between “Eco” mode: Smart thermostats usually have eco or green modes that automatically try to save more energy, especially when no one is home. If a thermostat continues to toggle to and from its eco mode, especially when people are at home, it is a sign that something is wrong. The same is true if the thermostat refuses to switch to eco mode, or takes a long time to switch off (indicating a sensor problem). This means that it is time for some troubleshooting.

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