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Smart Thermostats and Big Data: How Much Will They Help Consumers This Winter?

Does having more access to big data actually make us more efficient?

11Sep

As colder weather approaches, cost-conscious consumers are starting to make plans to reduce the likelihood of skyrocketing utility bills while keeping their homes warm.

Could the combination of smart thermostats and big data help them meet their goals? Some recent insights can help answer that question.

How the Smart Thermostat Market Is Growing

Smart home technologies have been in the news for years, but now it’s possible for people to afford them instead of just reading about all the cool things these systems can do. Retailers ranging from Lowe’s to Home Depot stock the necessary equipment, and the broad availability of these thermostats has driven prices down to appealing levels.

The global smart thermostat market is worth $879 million and is expected to reach $4.7 billion by 2021, according to a report compiled by IoT Analytics and Priori Data.

Those numbers indicate that people aren’t just considering purchasing smart thermostats in the future. The numbers show that they’re interested in what the technology offers and trying it for themselves.

How Big Data Could Reduce Energy Usage

Today’s leading smart technology companies are so reliant upon big data that they hire teams of scientists to study compiled information and use it to improve their products.

Developers can use data to import field data from thermostats with ease. The information is then used to build and train algorithms, visualize how they’ll perform in real life and automate future algorithms. They detect and maintain room temperatures to boost usability for consumers.

Smart thermostats also use benchmark insights that show people how their energy usage compares to similar households based on factors like the age of their home. Toon users get daily reports about the energy they consume, along with grades that summarize how they’re doing.

Big data is also capable of gathering electricity data to tell users about their usage, such as how much power a television consumes when it’s in on versus when it’s in standby mode. Thanks to that tailored information, people can make more informed choices, such as by reducing the energy intake of certain items when colder temperatures make it necessary to turn up the heat.

Most people aren’t aware of how energy expenditure occurs in their homes because it happens in non-obvious ways. For example, furnaces lose 30% of their energy just by venting gases. Of course, the smartest thermostat in the world won’t compensate for an inefficient heating system.

However, if one of your appliances suddenly starts consuming more energy than usual despite a lack of increased dependence, you might get clued in about a major appliance problem before the device breaks down and requires emergency service calls from technicians.

What Privacy Concerns Exist

The various ways smart thermostats could cut energy costs has been such a hit with officials in Ontario, Canada, that government officials have offered to cover the bills for people willing to install them.

However, some of those consumers have voiced concern about whether their details will stay safe if they make the switch. Critics say the government isn’t doing enough to keep data safe, and customers recognize how valuable their details could be to third-party groups.

People also have fears about what could happen if smart thermostats get hacked. Granted, the brands that the Canadian government is backing aren’t among those prone to hacking.

Smart thermostats could indeed assist people in keeping their energy bills down this winter and beyond.

However, to see that outcome, individuals need to show willingness — both in being open to the technology and understanding how to utilize it for maximum savings. 

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