Smart thermostats like Nest, EcoBee and Honeywell’s version of the smart thermostat are becoming increasingly popular and even showing up in home listings.

Smart thermostats can benefit a homeowner in two stages, through:

  • reducing utility costs over the course of homeownership; and
  • increasing the home’s attractiveness to buyers when listing.

How does a smart thermostat reduce energy costs?

The biggest source of a homeowner’s utility costs are a home’s heating and cooling systems. Smart thermostats can help homeowners reduce these costs, but is the cost of installation worth the savings?

A regular programmable thermostat allows a homeowner to set a schedule for heating and cooling, and a smart thermostat goes a few steps further by:

  • showing the homeowner how long it takes to heat or cool the home to the requested temperature;
  • allowing the homeowner to adjust the thermostat remotely;
  • show how energy savings add up in real time;
  • learn from the homeowner’s behavior and adjust accordingly;
  • working with some voice-controlled devices like Amazon’s Alexa; and
  • sense and adjust according to the home’s humidity levels.

What is the cost?

Smart thermostats typically cost around $200-$500 to purchase. One of the most popular smart thermostats, Nest, costs $250. Do-it-yourself-ers can save money by installing their own smart thermostat, but some models require a professional installation, which will cost additional money.

What are the savings?

Nest claims to save the average homeowner 10%-15% on their heating and cooling bills. It claims to pay for itself within two years of installation.

Does a smart thermostat help when selling?

While no conclusive evidence exists to prove a smart thermostat increases a home’s value, installing a smart thermostat can make a home more attractive to homebuyers, if marketed appropriately. A smart thermostat is particularly value-adding when it’s a part of a larger system of energy efficiency, which may include:

  • EnergyStar appliances;
  • energy-efficient lighting;
  • tankless water heater;
  • solar panels; and
  • EnergyStar windows and doors.

However, unless you’re going to install a smart thermostat as part of a “green” or “smart home” marketing strategy, you’re probably better off investing the money elsewhere.