Thermostats

Small and mighty savers!

Want to save energy in winter and summer? You don’t have to get a new heating system to get started.

Installing a better thermostat is a simple, effective first step that makes better use of your energy dollar and helps ensure your home stays just how you like it. So you can power your day, your way.

It’s also one way renters in single-family homes can make a small investment to control costs.**

The latest options

Wireless and smart thermostats open up a whole new world of control and savings.

For example, imagine turning your system off from the airport before you head out on vacation – using your phone.

Or how about getting a check from PGE for letting your thermostat use less energy when other people are using more?

There are lots of choices in thermostats, so before you buy, figure out which type is best for you.

Smart

5 stars out of 5 stars

Pros:

  • After some basic initial programming, these thermostats learn your behavior and patterns and continually adjust to maximize savings and comfort.
  • Proven energy savings (Nest says 10 to 15 percent; EcoBee says up to 23 percent)
  • Connect to other smart home devices
  • Easy to install
  • May qualify for PGE programs that pay you to use less when others are using more.
  • May qualify for Energy Trust of Oregon cash incentives.

Cons:

  • Upfront cost is higher than with other thermostats

Typical cost: $198 to $250

Common brands: Nest, EcoBee

Wi-Fi Enabled

3 stars out of 5 stars

Pros:

These “connected” thermostats offer the same advantages as programmable thermostats plus:

  • Remote access via a mobile app.
  • Information on how you’re using energy and how you can save more.
  • May qualify for PGE programs that pay you to use less when others are using more.
  • Participate in demand response programs

Cons:

  • Like a programmable thermostat, they must be programmed manually, and adjusted as schedules change, to remain efficient.
  • No occupancy sensor like smart thermostats, so they can’t sense when you’re home or away and adjust automatically.
  • No connectivity to other devices.

Typical cost: $95 to $195

Common brands: Honeywell, Emerson

Programmable

2 stars out of 5 stars

According to ENERGY STAR, The average household spends more than $2,000 a year on energy bills - nearly half of which goes to heating and cooling. Homeowners can save about $180 a year by properly setting their programmable thermostats and maintaining those settings.

Pros:

  • More accurate than mechanical thermostats because they have digital sensors that read the room’s temperature.
  • Can help you participate in time-based energy pricing plans, like Time of Use, where you pay less for energy used at night and on the weekend.
  • Can help you save energy if you program them properly and then let them be.

Be sure to update the programming as your heating/cooling needs change – for example, when kids are home for summer break or if your work schedule changes.

Cons:

  • If you don’t program them accurately, they can actually use more energy.
  • Programming is entirely manual; no automatic refinements.
  • No connectivity to other home devices.
  • No ability to adjust remotely.
  • Not eligible for PGE programs that pay you to use less when others are using more.

Typical cost: $20 to $95

Common brands: Honeywell, Lux, Orbit, Homgeek

Mechanical

0 stars out of 5 stars

If you still have an old mechanical thermostat – with a dial or a lever to adjust the temperature – you’re likely throwing dollars out the window. Here’s why:

  • These thermostats are inaccurate, by about 5 degrees – meaning you could be constantly wasting energy by overheating or overcooling your home.
  • You also may be constantly adjusting your thermostat up and down to get to what feels right, which makes your system waste energy.
  • Human nature? We forget. So you go on vacation and the whole time, you’re heating or cooling an empty home.
  • Same goes for the daily adjustments that can help you save when you leave for work each morning or go to sleep at night. Unless you remember to adjust your thermostat each time, these turn into daily wasters.
  • No connectivity or ability to adjust remotely.
  • Not eligible for PGE programs that pay you to use less when others are using more.

*These thermostats only work for central heating and cooling – not for room by room heat such as ductless heat pumps or electric wall heaters, baseboard heating or cable ceiling heat.

There are emerging apps that allow remote access of ductless heat pumps – we’ll let you know when we think they’re ready for prime time. Subscribe to Home Connection newsletter to stay up on these and other energy saving trends.

**Be sure to check with your landlord before installing a new thermostat. Who knows? You might even get them to cover the cost…