Smart thermostats sell like hotcakes, and they are in fact the most popular “smart home” devices purchased by renovating homeowners. This is according to the recently released September 2016 Houzz study on smart home trends in the United States: “Among all the devices with smart capabilities installed by renovating homeowners, smart thermostats are the most popular, installed by 12% of renovating homeowners.”
But why are smart thermostats so popular?
Let’s look deeper. Houzz reports that “Upgrades to climate controls are all about improving comfort. Reducing energy consumption is a close second in importance, especially among those upgrading to smart devices such as thermostats (68% vs. 62%, respectively).” This is curious. If you’ve been watching the industry long enough, you know that smart home industry speculators have long proclaimed that homeowners would be interested in smart devices largely due to their energy-saving benefits. Smart climate control products have been advertised accordingly, touted for their energy-saving, bill-reducing magic powers.
Energy savings aren’t all that.
In spite of speculations, year after year, the idea that energy savings drives smart device adoption has seemed further and further from the truth. Homeowners express skepticism about the promise of reduced energy bills, or they’re simply disinterested in the meager few bucks their calculations suggest smart controls would actually help save. The findings of this Houzz study confirm even more that saving energy is not the key motivation people have for adopting smart devices. Their true motivation is to increase their comfort at home. Saving energy is only secondary. Yes, it’s a close second, but it’s not first.
Comfort is key.
No one enjoys waiting for the house to cool down or heat up once they’ve decided to adjust the thermostat. Human nature in that regard isn’t complicated. If you’re cold, you want warmth ASAP. If you’re hot, you want a nice chill ASAP.
But traditional thermostats do make you wait. Smart thermostats don’t. For example, when you’re driving home and you realize it’s way too hot outside to expect natural comfort indoors, you can remotely ask your smart thermostat to start cooling down the house before you arrive, so when you get home, you don’t have to spend even a second sweating out the cool-down time. Saving energy, of course, is a bonus. Rather than having to leave the A/C running the entire time you’re away just to enjoy the convenience of a cool home upon your return, you’re able to keep it off for the most part of your absence.
Smart home devices do have real benefits; they just aren’t always communicated accurately. Fortunately, the industry is getting there.
…The importance of knowing what the real benefits are lies in the comfort you can find. When cell phones were first introduced, many of us asked why they were necessary. It only took so long for the real benefits to be discovered over the advertised benefits. The same process is happening with smart home technologies.
…You can help homeowners make the best investments by understanding their motivations to invest in smart home technology at all.
Interestingly, another finding of the Houzz study is that renovating homeowners “cite learning about and finding the right technologies as the biggest challenges when installing security, entertainment, climate-control, or lighting systems and devices.” Help them overcome that challenge by discussing their motivations, and guide them toward discovering their true motivations for themselves. Do they really care most about saving energy? Or is their interest in smart climate controls more about increased comfort, with energy-savings as a bonus?