Smart Thermostats

Reduce SourcesElectricityEnhance Efficiency
Reduce SourcesBuildingsEnhance Efficiency
CO2 Equivalent
Reduced / Sequestered
Billion $US
Net First Cost
(To Implement Solution)
Trillion $US
Lifetime Net
Operational Savings
Thermostats are mission control for space heating and cooling. Smart thermostats use algorithms and sensors to become more energy efficient over time, lowering emissions.

Solution Summary*

Thermostats are mission control for residential energy use for heating and cooling—9 percent of energy consumption in the United States. At present, the majority of thermostats require manual operation or preset programming, and studies show people are notoriously unreliable in doing either efficiently. Smart thermostats eliminate the capriciousness of human behavior, thereby driving more predictable energy savings.

The first smart thermostat, the Nest, came to market in 2011, developed by a team of former iPhone engineers who saw an opportunity to bring smartphone thinking to the antiquated temperature controls in homes. Thanks to algorithms and sensors, next-generation thermostats learn over time by gathering and analyzing data. You can still turn the temperature up and down, but these devices will remember your choices and memorize your routines—adapting to the dynamic nature of day-to-day living.

Smart thermostats detect occupancy, learn inhabitants’ preferences, and nudge users toward more efficient behavior. The newest technologies also integrate demand response; they can reduce consumption at times of peak energy use, peak prices, and peak emissions. The net effect: Residences are more energy efficient, more comfortable, and less costly to operate.

* excerpted from the book, Drawdown

We project that smart thermostats could grow from 3 percent to 58–63 percent of households with Internet access by 2050. In this scenario, 1,453–1,589 million homes would have them. Reduced energy use could avoid 7.0–7.4 gigatons of carbon dioxide emissions for an investment of US$155–172 billion. Return on investment is high: smart thermostats can save their owners US$1.8-2.1 trillion on utility bills over the lifetime of the units.